Prosecutions by the HSE and CQC
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed it will prosecute Southern NHS Foundation Trust over the drowning of CS, an 18 year old patient under their care in 2013.
C was autistic, had learning difficulties, and was under care of Trust staff when he suffered an epileptic seizure while in the bath. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had issued a warning in September 2013 to improve the care and protection of patients but the HSE has decided to prosecute the Trust under S.3 HSWA 1974.
The same Trust is facing charges from the CQC after a patient fell from a roof at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital Winchester in December 2015.
This is the first prosecution of its type against an NHS Trust under the “fundamental standards “regulations.
Since April 2015 the CQC has had power to bring criminal prosecutions under the HSCA 2014 regulation
It is an offence to fail to comply with the following requirements if this results in avoidable harm or exposes the service user to a significant risk or avoidable harm.
- Regulation 12 care and treatment must be provided in a safe way,
- Regulation 13 service users must be protected from abuse and improper treatment
- Regulation 14 service users must be provided with sufficient nutrition and hydration
- Although there have been several prosecutions of care homes there is a defence for providers if they can demonstrate to the Court that “all reasonable steps have been taken and all due diligence exercised to prevent the breach”.
The penalty for offences under the CQC Regulations is a financial one but the level of fine in the Magistrate’s Court is now unlimited reflecting the tougher new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences generally.
Details of prosecutions and outcomes of court proceedings can be found on the CQC website cqc.org.uk which shows fines ranging up to £190,000 plus costs.