THE HEALTH and Safety Executive will prosecute Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the death of Gillian Astbury, a diabetic who died at Stafford Hospital in 2007.
Peter Galsworthy, HSE Head of Operations in the West Midlands, said in concluding its investigations into the death of Ms Astbury, the HSE had decided there was ‘sufficient evidence’ and that it was in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in the case.
He said the HSE would be charging Mid Staffs under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which states ‘every employer has a duty to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected by the conduct of his undertaking are not as a result exposed to risks to their health and safety’.
“Gillian Astbury died on 11 April 2007, of diabetic ketoacidosis, when she was an in-patient at the hospital,” said Mr Galsworthy. “The immediate cause of death was the failure to administer insulin to a known diabetic patient.
"Our case alleges that the trust failed to devise, implement or properly manage structured and effective systems of communication for sharing patient information, including in relation to shift handovers and record-keeping."
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is due to appear before Stafford Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2013 for the first hearing in this case.
Chief executive at Mid Staffs Maggie Oldham said: “We accept the findings of the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation.
“Our thoughts remain with the family of Gillian Astbury and we apologise for the appalling care Ms Astbury received at our hospital in April 2007,” she said. “Ms Astbury’s death was reported as a serious untoward incident at the time and a full investigation into her care and treatment was carried out.”
Mrs Oldham said the recommendations from that investigation were implemented including raising staff awareness about the care of diabetic patients and improving the information and system for nurse handovers.
She added: “In 2010 we reviewed Ms Astbury’s dreadful care and as a result, disciplinary action was taken.”