Mid Staffordshire trust is fined £500 000 for “corporate failure” linked to four deaths

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 18 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6892
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1The BMJ

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £500 000 (€690 000; $745 000) and ordered to pay £35 000 in prosecution costs for a “corporate failure” linked to the deaths of four elderly patients treated at Stafford Hospital.

Three of the patients, who were known to be vulnerable to falls, died after falling, and the fourth was given penicillin despite relatives’ repeated warnings to staff that she was allergic to the drug. Last month the trust pleaded guilty to four charges from 2005 to 2014 under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The charges related to the deaths of Lillian Tucker, 77, Ivy Bunn, 90, Edith Bourne, 83, and Patrick Daly, 89.1

The fine was reduced by 50% because the trust entered an early guilty plea and cooperated fully with the prosecution. The trust now exists in shell form only and has no money, so the Department of Health will pay the fine.

In one of the worst scandals to have hit the NHS, Robert Francis QC’s public inquiry, which reported in 2013, found failures at every level in the trust that had caused “terrible and unnecessary suffering” and that resulted in nearly 500 excess deaths from 2005 to 2008.

Passing sentence at Stafford Crown Court, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that the failings were down to “poor record keeping and internal practice” and the lack of a robust management system for safeguarding patients. He added, “There was a corporate failure to keep to the lessons that earlier cases presented. But this was not a case of cost cutting at the expense of safety.”

The same judge had fined the trust £200 000 in 2014 over the “wholly avoidable” death in 2007 of Gillian Astbury, a patient with diabetes, who died of diabetic ketoacidosis after nurses failed to give her insulin.2 At the time, the judge said that aggravating factors in the case were “fundamental organisational and managerial failure, which can be traced to the very top of the organisation.”

Stafford Hospital, which has been renamed County Hospital, is now run by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6892


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