Healthcare company sentenced after patient fatally injured

On 16th March 2014, a vulnerable patient was fatally injured when returning from an out of hours GP appointment for a painful leg condition at Nottingham Emergency Medical Centre in a minibus operated by the company. Samantha Barton, aged 39, died after opening the sliding side door and leaping from the moving minibus which was travelling at speed on the Gamston Lings Bar Road, part of the A52 just outside of Nottingham.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that Elysium Healthcare (Farndon) Limited failed to have systems and procedures in place, including risk assessments, information, instruction and training which would have made sure the minibus doors were appropriately secured by the (fitted) child locks, so that passengers could not leave the vehicle until staff opened the doors from the outside. The driver and care worker were not aware that the locks were fitted to the minibus.

The minibus had been in use for more than five years with the risk untraced – the entire fleet has now been changed to safer vehicles.

Bernard Thorogood, Health and Safety Executive, said, “Samantha was in the back seat with a care worker. She heard a click, the door was open and Sam was out before she could stop her, Samantha had harmed herself 300 times in five years and was assessed as ‘predictably unpredictable.’ The driver and the worker both wrongly assumed childproof locks were not fitted, Had they been applied, they would have affected the exit,”

Elysium Healthcare (Farndon) Limited, of Imperial Place, Maxwell Road, Borehamwood, previously pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and has today been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £67,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Smith said, “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of this healthcare company to uphold its responsibilities to vulnerable patients by implementing simple control measures and associated safe working practices.”

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