HSE reminds hospitals of duty to ensure safety


A warning reminding hospitals and other care providers of their duty to ensure patients safety was issued by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) following the prosecution of an NHS Trust following an incident involving a patient in May 2004.

On 28 May 2004 a patient was found to have fallen approximately 12 metres to the ground from an open window. The device fitted to the window to prevent it from being opened anymore than 10cm had been poorly maintained and did not restrict the window from opening. The patient had been able to fall out of the open window causing him to suffer non-fatal injuries.

The NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was subsequently fined. Following the hearing HSE Inspector, Kirsty Welsh said "This case demonstrates all too clearly the need for hospitals to ensure that vulnerable patients in their care are not put at risk."

"The risk of falls from windows is well-known in the care sector. Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure they have preventative measures put in place and they are well maintained and effective in use. "

This case highlights the need for hospitals to maintain and ensure that all devises fitted to windows are in good working in order, but it also reminds hospitals/care providers that they have a duty to all vulnerable patients to ensure their safety during their stay for example to prevent falls from beds/trolleys.

The warning will also serves to remind hospitals/care providers that any person, whether they be a patient or a visitor, whilst on their premises must be kept free from the risk of injury. There are many different circumstances in which a person can suffer an injury whether that is as a result of a slip/trip or as a result of coming into contact with faulty equipment.

At Simpson Millar LLP we have dealt with a variety of cases involving visitors and patients who have been injured whilst visiting or during a stay in hospital or to a care provider.

This article was written by Emma Ginley in our CFA Team.

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