UK & World News

  • 29 August 2013, 14:00

Mid Staffs Trust To Be Prosecuted Over Death

A scandal-hit NHS trust is to be prosecuted over the death of a 66-year-old woman.

Gillian Astbury died at Stafford Hospital in 2007 after entering a diabetic coma, with an inquest deciding that a failure to administer insulin was a gross failure to provide basic care.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now said there is enough evidence to bring criminal proceedings.

It launched an investigation into Mrs Astbury's death earlier this year after a shocking report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust found as many as 1,200 patients may have died because of neglect.

Mrs Astbury, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, died in the early hours of April 11, 2007, while being treated for fractures to her arm and pelvis.

Jurors at the 2010 inquest found that a contributory factor in her death was a systemic failure to provide adequate nursing facilities and low staffing levels.

The inquest heard that Mrs Astbury's blood sugar levels were not properly monitored and insulin was not administered on the day before her death, despite being prescribed by doctors.

The HSE is charging the trust under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Peter Galsworthy from the HSE said: "Our case alleges that the trust failed to devise, implement or properly manage structured and effective systems of communication for sharing patient information, including in relation to shift handovers and record-keeping."

Last month, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found two nurses guilty of misconduct for failing to spot Ms Astbury was diabetic.

It ruled that Ann King and Jeannette Coulson had failed to look at or update Mrs Astbury's records and carry out blood tests.

The Francis Inquiry, published earlier this year, highlighted "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" at the Mid Staffordshire trust between 2005 and 2009.

It found some patients were left lying in their own faeces for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.

The first hearing into the charges over Mrs Astbury's death will be at Stafford Magistrates' Court on October 9.

Maggie Oldham, chief executive at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We accept the findings of the Health and Safety Executive's investigation.

"Our thoughts remain with the family of Gillian Astbury and we apologise for the appalling care Ms Astbury received at our hospital in April 2007.

"Ms Astbury's death was reported as a serious untoward incident at the time and a full investigation into her care and treatment was carried out.

"The recommendations from that investigation were implemented.

"Actions included raising staff awareness about the care of diabetic patients and improving the information system for nurse handovers.

"In 2010 we reviewed Ms Astbury's dreadful care and, as a result, disciplinary action was taken."