Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southern Health fined £161,000 over Melbury Lodge roof fall

Kingsley Ward at Melbury Lodge Image copyright Southern Health
Image caption Kingsley Ward at Melbury Lodge is a 25-bed unit for mental health patients aged 18-65

Mental health trust Southern Health has been ordered to pay £161,000 after a patient fell from a rooftop.

The man suffered serious neck injuries falling from Melbury Lodge at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, in December 2015.

Southern Health previously pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment.

It is the first time the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has brought a prosecution against an NHS trust.

The Kingsley Ward at Melbury Lodge provides treatment for people with severe mental health problems.

The court heard a patient, referred to as Mr AB, had climbed on to the roof from the garden in March 2012 before he was restrained and brought down.

Three years later he was readmitted to Melbury Lodge and he again climbed on to the roof, but this time fell despite staff efforts to talk him down.

'No excuse'

The CQC said Southern Health had failed to take action to prevent patients from gaining access to the low rooftop until mid-2016, and there were seven incidents between 2010 and 2014.

The trust was fined £125,000 and ordered to pay £36,000 in costs at a hearing at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court.

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said Southern Health had "failed to make basic improvements" despite being aware of the dangers.

"There can be no excuse for this failure by Southern Health to protect their patients from harm.

"Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident - but part of a wider failure to deal with concerns over safety as they arose."

The trust apologised to patients and said it accepted more should have been done.

Passing sentence, District Judge Loraine Morgan said: "It's a significant concern that even this tragic incident involving AB did not result in immediate steps to prevent any further incident.

"Works were not carried out because money was not available. If £300,000 had been spent in a timely manner by the trust, not only could this prosecution have been avoided as would the loss to AB and his family."

Southern Health has previously been criticised over its failure to properly investigate the deaths of hundreds of patients in its care between 2011 and 2015.

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