Regulator prosecutes Southern Health for failing to provide safe care at mental health unit

The wider implications for health and care providers – are you at risk of prosecution?

The prosecution (now well publicised) follows an incident at Melbury Lodge in December 2015. A patient sustained serious injuries during a fall from a low roof at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital. Allegations against the NHS Trust include a 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 – says the CQC.

The case is due to be heard later this year by Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court.

Food for thought

Since 1 April 2015, the Memorandum of Understanding between the CQC, the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities in England has been in place. It sets out the respective responsibilities between these organisations when dealing with health and safety incidents in the health and adult and social care sectors. It reflects CQC’s new enforcement powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 which also came into force in April 2015.

As the CQC is the lead inspection and enforcement body for patient safety and care matters, the incident at the Melbury Lodge falls to the CQC to consider and take action in the form of a prosecution given the concern of a greater risk of harm to patients/ service users.

This latest prosecution is a reflection of the increasing appetite by the regulator to take action. Providers in health and care settings are at greater risk of prosecution for poor standards of care now that the ‘regulatory gap’ identified in the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry has been closed.

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