Stoke & Staffordshire

Gillian Astbury death: Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust sentence delayed

Gillian Astbury
Image caption Gillian Astbury was admitted to hospital with a broken pelvis but died there

The case of a diabetic patient who died at Stafford Hospital has "wider implications" that mean a judge needs "time to reflect" before sentencing the NHS Trust, a court has been told.

Gillian Astbury, 66, lapsed into a coma after nurses failed to give her insulin and died at the hospital in April 2007.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust admitted health and safety breaches.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave told Stafford Crown Court he would reserve sentencing of the trust to a later date.

An inquest in 2010 ruled there had been a failure to provide basic care.

The trust had previously admitted health and safety breaches at Stafford Hospital, including poor record-keeping and having an inadequate system for the handing over of patients between different shifts and wards in relation to the death of Mrs Astbury.

Nurse struck off

Mrs Astbury, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, died in the early hours of 11 April after being admitted to Stafford Hospital with fractures to her arm and pelvis.

Nurses Ann King and Jeannette Coulson did not notice her high blood sugar, and she fell into a diabetic coma.

Ms King was struck off and Ms Coulson was cautioned after a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel found them guilty of misconduct last year.

During Friday's hearing, further details of the poor standard of care Mrs Astbury received were given by the prosecution.

Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, said she had been let down by the "complete absence" of proper systems of handover between nurses, and "poor" record-keeping and communication between wards and clinicians in place at Stafford at that time.

He said: "All the clinical and nursing staff were working in the context of poorly-led and poorly-run systems with no effective management oversight and control.

"In short, the nursing staff were set up to fail."

The NHS trust is running an annual operating deficit of about £11m.

It became the first foundation trust to go into administration in April.

Stafford Hospital was at the centre of a public inquiry into its "appalling" standards of care between 2005 and 2009.

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