Shropshire trust fined over bed fall death

An NHS trust in Shropshire has been fined £50,000 after an 89-year-old man fell out of bed and died.

Francis Steele, of Ditton Priors, had a brain haemorrhage after falling at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital in 2007, an inquest in May heard.

Earlier this month The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust admitted breaching health and safety rules.

The trust said improvements had since been made. It was fined and told to pay £8,000 costs at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

The court heard Mr Steele fell out of bed on 20 November 2007 and died weeks later.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it prosecuted the trust after an investigation found the hospital had failed to provide Mr Steele with a bed rail that would have prevented the fall.

'Chronic staff shortages'

Nurses had been warned that Mr Steele might fall out of bed but that only one safety rail was attached to it, the inquest in May was told.

A verdict of accidental death caused or contributed to by individual failure caused by system failure was returned by a jury.

On Monday a trust spokesperson said its deepest sympathies were with Mr Steele's family and it had apologised for the failures that contributed to his death.

The spokesperson said: "The Trust fully accepted the findings of the inquest held in May and understood at the time that this matter would be progressed by the HSE.

"Since 2007 many improvements have been made to reduce the risk of this type of incident occurring again.

"This includes strengthening training to ensure all staff comply with the new bed rail assessment policy, by ensuring that bed rail assessments are undertaken and implemented."

HSE investigating inspector Lindsay Hope said the trust's failure to provide a bed rail "for a frail, vulnerable patient who urgently needed it is unacceptable".

He said: "The failure was compounded by chronic staff shortages.

"Just a few weeks before this incident, one nurse was so concerned by staffing levels in the ward she had written to the trust board, but no action was taken."

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