Epsom Hospital chimney death trust fined £300k

Adam Withers, age 19 Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Adam Withers had been diagnosed with an acute psychotic illness

An NHS trust has been fined £300,000 after a patient fell 130ft (39m) to his death from an industrial chimney.

Adam Withers, 20, suffered from an acute psychotic illness and died after gaining access to a chimney at Epsom Hospital in May 2014.

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust admitted health and safety breaches at a previous hearing at Guildford Crown Court.

An inquest found the trust had failed to reassess Mr Withers' risk levels.

It concluded his death had been "caused or more than minimally contributed to" by the trust's failures.

The trust was found to have failed to act on previous warnings that patients could abscond via a low level building in the courtyard.

There had been at least nine previous incidents between 2011 and 2014 in which patients had managed to get on to the roof.

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Media captionMichelle Shelly was visiting her son, Adam Withers, when he fell to his death

Mr Withers was admitted to the Langley Unit at the hospital in April 2014 after becoming mentally ill, suffering from paranoia and delusions.

In May, while being visited by his mother, he went into the courtyard at Elgar Ward and climbed onto a low rise building.

From there, he gained access to a ladder that had been propped up against an industrial chimney, climbing to the top of it and falling to his death.

His mother was standing nearby and his twin sister, Carla, had arrived just moments earlier.

Fiona Edwards, chief executive of Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust "fully accept" the judge's decision and the fine imposed.

She said: "I am deeply sorry for Adam's death and continue to offer my most sincere condolences to his family and friends for the devastating impact this has had on them.

"This was a tragic accident and we accept responsibility for our contribution to his death.

"Sadly the loss of his life has helped drive, and contributed to, all of our safety work and service improvements."

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