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A healthcare provider, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, has been fined £67,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a patient with a history of depression committed suicide while in its care (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v NHS Ayrshire and Arran).
Findings of the HSE
It has been rare for the HSE to prosecute healthcare providers over clinical failures. This decision, together with recent Health and Safety Executive action against Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation, suggests that they are responding to the criticism in the Francis report and are more prepared to look at both non-clinical and clinical failings than they have been. Whether this will change again in light of the Memorandum of Understanding they have agreed with the CQC remains to be seen. The memorandum suggests that where “a patient/service user who did not receive treatment in line with their care plan who died or was severely harmed as a result” it would be for the CQC to consider and decide the action to be taken.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran admitted guilt under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of people not in its employment. The HSE found that NHS Ayrshire & Arran had identified the risk of psychiatric patients being left alone and had procedures in place but these were not followed.
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