Healthcare Company Fined for Death of Resident

BUPA, a nation-wide healthcare company, has been ordered to pay a six-figure fine for their negligence after a resident in one of their care homes died after falling from a bed.

The fatal accident occurred on the 24th September 2013 when Josephine Millard, a ninety-one year-old resident of a care home, was found dead on the floor of her room. Josephine was living in the Beacon Edge Residential Home in Penrith, which is operated by BUPA. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) subsequently conducted an investigation into the incident and found that, though bedrails were present on Josephine’s bed, a pressure sensor that would have notified staff of the fall, had not been activated.

The HSE also uncovered other failings by the care home to protect their residents. Staff at Beacon Edge were not adequately trained in bedrail safety, and no regular safety assessments were conducted – despite the fact that these are requirements for the operation of the home. Additionally, the HSE ruled that the care home failed to provide adequate “care and support for people with dementia type illnesses”, which in turn contributed to Josephine’s fall.

BUPA Care Homes (CFC Homes) were subsequently prosecuted by the HSE for breaching Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1997. The case proceeded to the Margistraes’ Court in Carlisle, where the health insurance company admitted their guilt.

The sentencing hearing was held at the Carlisle Crown Court earlier this month. BUPA was ordered to pay a fine of £400,000 for their negligence leading to the death of a resident. They were also ordered to pay an additional £15,206 in costs.

Speaking after the announcement of the fine, Carol Forster – an Inspector for the HSE –  commented that “The need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bedrails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years. In this case there was a lack of appropriate assessment of the residents’ changing needs and review of the control measures in place to protect her. The measures that were in place were not used correctly in that the sensor pad which would have alerted staff to the resident’s being out of bed was not switched on”.

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