The Crown Prosecution Service reports that a care home in Nottingham was fined £300,000 for corporate manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court recently. The conviction arose following the death of an 86 year old lady who suffered pneumonia, as a result of serious failings in the provision of personal care, nutrition and support provided by the home. According to reports, the post mortem confirmed that neglect had directly contributed to her death.
It is reported that despite concerns raised by staff, outside agencies and warnings issued in relation to the resident’s poor condition, the defendants failed in their duty to provide adequate personal care, nutrition, accommodation and support to the vulnerable resident. Following the closure of the home and the removal of all residents in 2012, it became obvious just how truly shocking the conditions in the home had been.
While this is the first conviction reported under the recently introduced Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which is dovetailed by health and safety legislation, criminal prosecutions under the Health & Safety Act have been reported in the past. Recently, a trust pleaded guilty in connection to the death of four elderly patients from 2005 – 2014. Four separate charges were brought in connection with alleged breaches under health and safety legislation, and sentencing is awaited under the new sentencing guidelines.
It cannot be stressed enough that compliance matters also apply to those holding responsible positions in care homes (such as directors, registered managers or responsible individuals) in addition to the company itself, which is treated as a separate legal entity under the law. In the Nottingham case, the director and home manager were handed down separate sentences, the former 3 years and 2 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to gross negligence manslaughter, and the latter one year imprisonment, suspended for two years, for breach of sections 3 and 37 under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1973.
In light of these recent developments, companies and their responsible officers are reminded of the potential liabilities they may face if serious attention is not given to compliance matters. Such travesties can only be avoided if good governance and compliance is promoted from the directors right down the line to the part-time cleaner in a care home.
Don’t wait for the next incident to take place, take action now, and contact London Registrars for an informal discussion of your particular requirements. Just call 020 7608 0011 or email us on [email protected].