Mental health trust fined £1.5m for failings over deaths of 11 patients


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mental health trust has been fined £1.5 million over its failure to “prevent suicide”.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday.

The trust pleaded guilty in November to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against the trust following an investigation that identified 11 deaths where a “point of ligature was used within the ward environment of the trust’s premises”.

Judge Mr Justice Cavanagh said a “litany” of “systematic failures” were found to have taken place over a prolonged period, describing the trust’s actions to protect its patients at the time as “woefully inadequate”.

Prosecutor Shauna Ritchie said: “This offence arose following concerns received about failings by the trust to prevent suicide.”

The HSE probe covered the period from October 1 2004 to March 31 2015, during which a number of deaths through hanging occurred on the trust’s wards, including that of Ben Morris in 2008, David King in 2009, Steve Oxton in 2012, Matthew Leahy also in 2012, and Iris Scott in 2014.

Others who died were either not identified during the court case or were done so only by their initials at the request of their families.

Judge Cavanagh agreed with the prosecution that there were “repeated” failings to address the risk of ligature points before and after the deaths of patients, with recommended action not put into practice in some cases for a number of years afterwards.

“Time and time again opportunities to put measures in place were lost.”

The grief-stricken family members of those who died were given the opportunity to read out victim impact statements in court.



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