Tayside and Central Scotland

Health board fined over missing pensioner

Alexander Gerrard Image copyright Supplied
Image caption Mr Gerrard's body was found in the Forth and Clyde Canal, near Kilsyth

NHS Forth Valley has been fined £8,000 for failing to ensure the safety of a pensioner who was found dead a week after going missing from a hospital.

Alexander "Sandy" Gerrard, 69, went missing from the former Bonnybridge Hospital, near Falkirk, in May 2011.

He was seen a few hours later more than seven miles away on the outskirts of Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire.

His body was found by members of the public in the Forth and Clyde Canal, near Kilsyth.

Police had launched a major search including specialist dogs, thermal imaging equipment and a helicopter for Mr Gerrard, who was originally from Aberdeenshire and was described by officers as "very vulnerable".

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that Mr Gerrard had made an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to leave the hospital six days earlier, but NHS officials had failed to carry out "a suitable and sufficient assessment" of the risk of him doing it again.

Apologies for distress

NHS Forth Valley Health Board admitted failing to assess the risks to Mr Gerrard's health and safety, contrary to 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

The health board closed Bonnybridge Hospital seven month later and transferred its staff and patients to the Falkirk Community Hospital.

An NHS Forth Valley spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry for the circumstances surrounding this patient's death in May 2011 and would like to again apologise to the family for the distress this has caused.

"A number of actions have been carried out to address the shortcomings identified as a result of both our own internal investigation and the subsequent investigation carried out by the HSE."

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