Hospital failures blamed over patients' death

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A hospital's failure to adhere to health and safety rules was a "significant cause" of the death of a severely disabled patient, a judge was told today.

Basildon University Hospital in Essex acknowledged that 20-year-old Kyle Flack died following failures in its "systems and procedures", Basildon Crown Court was told.



The hospital's governing trust admitted breaching health and safety law by failing to ensure patients were not exposed to risk after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of Mr Kyle's death nearly four years ago. Judge Christopher Mitchell is due to impose fines later today following a sentencing hearing.



Prosecutor Pascal Bates said Mr Flack, a quadriplegic who had cerebral palsy, died at the hospital in October 2006 after getting his head trapped in protective bed bars.



Mr Bates said the hospital had failed to properly supervise Mr Flack, failed to properly pass on information, failed to properly train staff, failed to properly assess risk and had not heeded warnings.



Earlier this year, Mr Flack's mother, Gill, called for hospital bosses to be "held accountable".



Mrs Flack, of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, said Basildon University Hospital had been the "worst place" for her son.



She described some care standards at the hospital as "absolute crap".



The hospital said standards had improved.



Six months ago a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found poor hygiene and care standards at the hospital.



The CQC said it was "looking extremely closely" at care standards at the hospital.



Mark Goldring, chief executive of health charity Mencap, said Mr Flack's case is "not unique" and has called on the judge to send a "powerful message" when sentencing.



"(The trust) accepts that its offending was a significant cause of this death," Mr Bates told the judge. "Management failed to lay down correct procedures."



He said the offences amounted to a "serious" breach of duty and the hospital had fallen "markedly short" of the required standard.

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