Health and Safety Executive Impose Financial Sanction on NHS

| Career Insights

In mid-February 2023 industry Regulator, the Health and Safety Executive imposed a substantial financial penalty in an amount just shy of two hundred thousand pounds in connected with a few incidents which had taken place whereby there was a correlative and causative relationship between a male patient under its care sustaining falls and his subsequent demise. 

What Happened In The Case?

The gentleman involved in the case appears to have been involved in a seemingly distressing fall whilst he was residing in his home premises. As a direct result of the falling incident, the hospital decided to admit the gentleman to the hospital for observation, assessment, and potential treatment. He was moved to a part of the hospital designed for the use of patients who require surgery. Under normal circumstances, patients undergo a short stay in the hospital estate and eventually are assessed as being healthy enough to return home. However, this did not happen in this case. Unfortunately, the gentleman suffered three falls in nine days. When the gentleman was examined it was discovered that there had been a correlative and causative relationship between the falls and a neurological subarachnoid haemorrhage. Despite all the care from the hospital staff sadly nothing could be done and the gentleman lost his fight for life approximately forty-eight hours after the third fall.        

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

Owing to the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding the allegations against the Health Authority, the Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into what had taken place in the case. The Executive wanted to ensure that the Health Authority had allocated a professional level of care to the gentleman. The HSE reviewed the evidence submitted in front of it and communicated its view that the Health Authority had fallen short in its responsibilities to make personal one-to-one care available to the gentleman whilst he resided in the hospital building on the hospital estate, It also commented on its observations that the Health Authority had neglected in its accountability to mitigate the risk of further such falls taking place in respect of implementing certain control measures and safety procedures.     

Feet to the Fire?

Eventually, the case meandered its way to the Inverness Sheriff’s Court late into the month of January 2023 the Health Authority was confronted with allegations under Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These Regulations place legal obligations upon businesses employing staff to arrange for protective and preventative measures to be put in a position to protect the health and safety of members of the workforce. In this regard, the legislation places legal obligations upon affected employers to control, plan, organize, oversee, and evaluate the effectiveness of the arrangements.    

Lessons Learned? 

The Health and Safety Executive appears to have taken the case so seriously owing primarily to the fact that there is a higher likelihood for members of the public using services involving care and health to sustain injuries as a direct consequence of falls. The Regulator commented that such incidents are in the majority of cases entirely avertible by taking the following steps, including but not limited to: 

  • ensuring the quality of light is conducive to the safety of users of the respective service and members of the workforce 

  • selecting the appropriate type of shoe 

  • installing a variety of flooring which is safe and

  • carefully read the instructions to ensure that floors are cleaned correctly.  

 This will reduce the likelihood of further persons sustaining serious injuries as a direct consequence of falls in the hospital estate.   


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[SOURCE 1] Health and Safety Executive – Health Board fined £180,000 after patient dies – 14th February 2023 - Health board fined £180,000 after patient dies | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Regulation 5(1) Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

[SOURCE 3] Health and Safety Executive – Slips and trips in health and social care - Slips and trips in health and social care (



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