Christine Cunningham of the Eastern Daily Press reports:
A Norfolk and Suffolk NHS trust has been fined £366,000 for health and safety failings after a 78-year-old patient was found drowned in a bath on a hospital ward.
Joan Darnell, who had dementia and bipolar disorder, had been taken from her home in Field Grange, Lowestoft, to the Julian Hospital in Bowthorpe Road, Norwich.
Mrs Darnell, was on the Blickling ward with 15 other elderly patients, with memory problems, when despite being kept under hourly observation by staff, she was able to go into an unlocked bathroom and run a bath and drown, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) wasted tens of millions of pounds making many of its most experienced and highly qualified staff redundant as part of the ‘radical redesign’.
The Julian Hospital regularly has problems finding enough qualified staff to staff its wards safely.
Two patients have recently choked to death eating their meals at Hellesdon Hospital.
Staff at Hellesdon Hospital were unable to find a defibrillator when it was needed in an emergency.
We don’t know whether NSFT is being prosecuted for any of these tragedies.
Last month, a Suffolk inquest heard how a frail, confused and terminally-ill man died alone in Bradford because of the lack of local beds for the elderly.
As the Chief Executive of NSFT, Michael Scott, is so fond of saying, not all unexpected deaths are suicide. None of these deaths was suicide. Next time Michael Scott is trying to justify the massive rise in unexpected deaths, he could perhaps try using the excuse: “These figures need to be treated with caution because they include deaths due to our cuts, negligence, incompetence and complacency.”
More than two years ago, we published an open letter written by staff at the Julian Hospital in which they expressed their concerns.
Before the radical redesign, Mrs Darnell, from Lowestoft, would have been cared for locally at Carlton Court. The wards for the elderly at Carlton Court were closed after a sham consultation. Andy Evans, the then Chief Executive of Great Yarmouth & Waveney CCG, has since retired on a pension greatly increased by his Board colleagues’ decision to pay him £15,000 per year more than the maximum recommended by national guidelines.
The Chair of NSFT who pushed through the cuts and then retired from her £40,000 per year two-days-a-week role as they were implemented, Maggie Wheeler, is, in the bitterest of ironies, now Chair of the Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance and was, quite incredibly, awarded an honorary degree for her work in mental health.
The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust admitted breaching health and safety regulations by not ensuring the care of Mrs Darnell and was fined £366,000, although the fine was reduced as the court heard that it would have to come out of the under-pressure NHS budget. The trust has agreed to pay the fine by March next year.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
In addition to the £366,000 fine, NSFT was ordered to pay costs of £12,888.48.
The fine would have been larger had the judge not decided to make his own attempt to protect mental health services:
Judge Holt also said that as a public body the trust did not have any large reserves or assets and reduced the fine as he accepted a larger fine could inevitably hit services.
NSFT claims it can’t afford to pay fines for failing to care for its patients yet over the last three years, its Chief Executive’s twenty-five per cent pay rise will have cost the NHS an additional £105,000 in salary payments alone: Michael Scott’s total remuneration in just 2015-16 was quoted in NSFT’s annual report as being £360,000 to £365,000 per year.
Michael Scott was the Chief Executive of NSFT when Mrs Darnell died.
Read the article in full on the EDP website by clicking on the image below: