£500,000 Fine for Avoidable Stafford Hospital Deaths

The now-defunct Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £500,000 for failings that resulted in four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths.

Charges were brought against the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths – three of them attributable to falls in the hospital, and a fourth due to a patient being administered a medicine she was known to be allergic to.

Last month the NHS Trust pleaded guilty to “very significant failings” in the care of the four patients at Stafford Magistrates´ Court, who referred the case for sentencing to Stafford Crown Court. At the hearing, the court heard that three of the charges related to a failure to carry out a proper risk assessment and identify control measures to prevent falls.

At Stafford Crown Court, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave – who had previously fined the NHS Trust £200,000 for failings related to the death of Gillian Astbury in 2007 – heard extracts from relatives about the four victims. He said that the failings that caused the four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths were attributable to the lack of a robust management system for safeguarding patients.

Sentencing the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the judge said: “I hope today brings some closure and finally draws a line under the past, and that Stafford and Cannock Hospitals can open a new and bright chapter and become the hospitals that their dedicated staff and local communities can once again be proud of.”

As the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is no longer operating, the £500,000 fine for the four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths will be paid by the Secretary of State for Health. The Secretary of State for Health will also be liable for the £35,517 costs incurred by the HSE in bringing the prosecution.

Speaking to news reporters after the hearing, HSE Inspector Wayne Owen issued a statement on behalf of the victim´s families. Mr Owen said: The families acknowledge the NHS Trust´s unreserved apology. The conclusion of this case goes some way towards bringing the closure that they all need”.