07 March 2017
Southern Health Prosecuted Over Alleged Failure to Provide Safe Care
A mental health trust has become the first NHS body to be criminally prosecuted for alleged failings in patient care.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is the subject of legal action after a patient suffered serious injuries when they fell from a low roof at Melbury Lodge, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, in December 2015.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates all NHS trusts, said it is prosecuting "over an alleged failure to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to a patient and other patients being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm".
It is the first time the CQC has launched a prosecution against a trust.
We must call for greater focus on patient safety and basic care within the mental health sector as its patients are often the most needy and vulnerable.
Julie Dawes, interim chief executive of Southern Health, said: "I express again our apologies to the patient involved, and the patient's family.
"The safety of people using our services is of central importance to us and we are doing everything we can to improve the safety and quality of our services at present."
Climb-proof guttering has since been installed at Melbury Lodge.
Further to this, Southern Health has repeatedly been accused of failures to investigate the deaths of hundreds of patients between 2011 and 2015.
In 2013, a jury inquest ruled that neglect contributed to the death of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned after an epileptic seizure at Slade House in Headington, Oxfordshire.
Laura Craig, a clinical negligence specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “This is a very sad story. For an NHS trust to be prosecuted, the failures have to be widespread and systemic. Already stretched NHS mental health services have been hit hard by government spending cuts and the results can be seen here.
“We must call for greater focus on patient safety and basic care within the mental health sector as its patients are often the most needy and vulnerable.”
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