England

Stafford Hospital trust sentencing date criticised

Gillian Astbury
Image caption Gillian Astbury lapsed into a diabetic coma in 2007

The Christmas Eve sentencing date of a health trust over a patient's death at Stafford Hospital has been criticised.

Gillian Astbury, 66, lapsed into a diabetic coma in 2007 after nurses neglected to give her insulin. Her former carer Ron Street said the timing "inhibits timely reporting".

Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Trust has admitted safety breaches.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service said the date was "under discussion".

The trust pleaded guilty to safety breaches earlier this month and Stafford Crown Court confirmed the hearing has been set for half a day on Christmas Eve.

Mr Street said it was "surprising" timing for the court hearing.

Unlimited fine

He said: "The questionable timing of the further hearing at Stafford Crown Court on Christmas Eve effectively inhibits timely reporting.

"I can but speculate whether it is a matter of public or vested interest prompting the surprising choice of date."

A spokesperson for HM Courts & Tribunals Service said: "The date for this hearing is still under discussion with the parties."

The trust pleaded guilty at Stafford Magistrates' Court to failing to properly manage and organise hospital services including its systems for record keeping and sharing patient information between staff members.

Magistrates ruled their sentencing powers for the offence were insufficient because they could only impose a maximum fine of £20,000.

The trust now faces an unlimited fine.

The two nurses who failed to give Mrs Astbury insulin were sentenced in July.

Ann King was struck off and Jeannette Coulson was cautioned after a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel found them guilty of misconduct.

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