Bernard Thorogood represented Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for plea and sentence in June. The Crown Court was persuaded to give great weight to the public funding nature of the Trust when sentencing for health and safety offences. The fine was only £15,000 following a guilty plea to a “causative” health and safety offence, which gave rise to a patient’s death.

The patient, 69, from Blackmore in South Essex, died after falling nine metres through a window that was fitted with an inappropriate restrictor. He had only recently been moved to a separate room for his own safety after becoming confused and agitated following an operation.

Mr Thorogood successfully argued that, inter alia, the special circumstances of the Trust as a publicly funded body under stringent financial pressures, meant that the Court should depart in a dramatic way from the “seldom less than” figure of £100,000 for fatal health and safety cases. The Trust was given time to pay and thus the recognised high standards of patient care were not compromised.

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