Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust plead guilty to criminal charges

Following our previous report of the HSE’s decision to prosecute the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) in relation to the deaths of four elderly patients from 2005 to 2014, the Trust pleaded guilty at a hearing on 4 November 2015.

Three of the deaths occurred after falls where the patients had been vulnerable to falling. The other death occurred after the patient was administered with penicillin, despite hospital staff being informed that she was allergic to it.

The Trust will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court. The Trust was fined £200,000 in 2014 following the death of Gillian Astbury, a diabetic patient, aged 66, who died in 2007 after nurses failed to provide routine insulin, so with the multiple deaths on this occasion along with the new sentencing guidelines, it will be instructive to see what level of fine is handed down.

The Trust has been at the heart of an intensive investigation due to an exceptionally high mortality rate amongst its patients and evidence of poor care standards and neglect, from 2005 to  2009.

The Trust’s special administrator Tim Rideout had previously stated how he is “… committed to bringing matters to a conclusion as efficiently and effectively as possible in the best interests of the families concerned.” Continuing with this theme he has since confirmed that “We have been working with the HSE since their decision to prosecute MSFT. I have made a commitment to bringing matters to a conclusion in the best interest of the families concerned.”

HSE to prosecute following injury during filming of the new Star Wars film

The HSE has confirmed that it will prosecute Foodles Production (UK) Ltd after the actor, Harrison Ford, fractured his leg during the filming of Star Wars: The Forces Awakens on 12 June 2014 at Pinewood Studios. Foodles Production was the company responsible for production of the film and is a UK-based subsidiary of Disney.

Harrison Ford suffered his injuries when he was struck by a heavy hydraulic metal door on the set of the spaceship, the Millennium Falcon.

Foodles face charges under sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which sets out the duty of an employer to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of health and safety …”, and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

The HSE has stated that “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor. We have investigated thoroughly and believe that we have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.”

Foodles Production told the BBC that “Cast and crew safety is always a top priority. We provided full cooperation during HSE’s investigation into the on-set accident that occurred in June 2014 and are disappointed in the HSE’s decision.”

They will appear at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on 12 May 2016 to face the above charges.

Health & safety diploma dispute marks first fast-track lawsuit at UK antitrust tribunal

The Defendant was a health and safety membership organization which provided accreditation of health and safety qualifications. The Claimant was a company which had developed qualifications, training material and courses in health and safety, including a diploma in applied health and safety. The Claimant submitted an application to the Defendant for the accreditation of its diploma qualification.

The Defendant refused, resulting in the first ever fast-track competition claim before the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). The case settled early with the Defendant agreeing to various undertakings. The Claimant had submitted that the Defendant held a dominant position in the market for health and safety training and qualifications and, furthermore, that its refusal to accredit the Claimant’s diploma qualification was an abuse of its dominant position.

The Claimant had sought an injunction, a declaration that the Defendant had abused its dominant position, damages, interest and costs. However, it dropped all of its claims following the settlement agreed through the new fast-track procedure.