An NHS trust was ordered to pay almost half a million pounds in fines and costs for breaches of health and safety laws relating to an incident where a care worker was stabbed at a residential care home. 

The case involved the placing of Stephen Flatt, then 55, at Abacus House in Dunstable by the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. 

  Flatt killed 58-year-old care worker Kathleen Bainbridge on 24 August 2007 with a knife from a kitchen. He also attacked another care worker, Barbara Hill, who tried to help her colleague. 

  The Health and Safety Executive and Central Bedfordshire Council conducted a joint investigation into the case. They concluded that Abacus House was not the correct care facility for Flatt, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

Huge Fines Issued for Negligence

Luton Crown Court was told that staff at Abacus House had no expertise or training for people with this disorder, or for managing violent or aggressive behaviour. 

The NHS Trust was issued fines of £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £326,346 for breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for its failings.   The prosecution was brought by the HSE. 

Central Bedfordshire Council meanwhile brought proceedings at the same time against the owner of Abacus House, Chelvanayagam Menna.   Menna was issued fines of £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £338,996 after being found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the 1974 Act. 

Cllr Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The legal process has been long and difficult, particularly for Mrs Bainbridge’s family but also for her former colleagues – especially Mrs Hill. 

  “Of course the trial of Stephen Flatt had to take initial priority and once this was concluded the police instigated a further investigation of the Trust and care home owner. However the council and HSE cooperated closely on their investigation from the outset and were in a position to progress with proceedings as soon as the police cleared the way.” 

Cllr Wells added: “All concerned in the case hope that the right lessons are learned from this tragedy and that nothing of a similar nature occurs in future.” 

HSE Inspector Karl Howes said care homes had a duty not only to protect the safety of their residents but their staff as well.“The NHS Trust failed to adequately assess the risks that were posed to staff and other residents from placing Mr Flatt in Abacus House,” he added. “I hope this will make all NHS Trusts and care facilities carefully consider the procedures that they have in place during patient placement.” 

  Tom Cahill, chief executive of Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would again like to offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Kathleen Bainbridge. 

“We are absolutely committed to providing safe and effective services for the community we serve. The Trust will ensure that the lessons that have emerged from this trial are implemented in full.” 

https://www.dynamis.training/safe-holding/, for carers working with older people  is one example of a course we developed specifically for the care home sector, using guidance from national regulatory and guidance bodies.  It offers staff and managers greater information with which to make the best decisions about restraint and the management of violence & aggression.   

Story courtesy of  localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk   

Ger Teaching 3

Gerard O’Dea is a conflict management, personal safety and physical interventions training consultant.  He is the training director for Dynamis, a specialist in personal safety and violence reduction initiatives and the European Adviser for ‘Verbal Defense and Influence’, a global programme which addresses the spectrum of human conflict.  www.dynamis.training

Gerard’s book on Lone Worker Personal Safety >  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1494759217

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