Hospital Trust faces fine for breaching Health & Safety legislation

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust faces a fine for breaching Health & Safety legislation after a hospital patient died when he fell while in a lifting hoist and was impaled on part of the equipment. John Biggadike, 53, suffered ‘catastrophic’ internal injuries after fell on to the protruding metal post.

The jury heard that the fatal incident occurred because hospital staff were not using the equipment correctly and had instead devised their own way of operating it. This was therefore a breach of Health & Safety legislation. At the time of the incident in April 2012 Mr Biggadike, who lived in Spalding, was receiving physiotherapy at the Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, in preparation for his discharge home. He died as a result of his injuries.

Adam Farrer, prosecuting, told the jury at Lincoln Crown Court that the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, was to blame for Mr Biggadike’s death because staff were not trained to use the hoist and should have been supervised which was a direct breach of Health & Safety legislation. Mr Farrer said “The prosecution do not blame individuals. The prosecution say the Trust failed to train them properly and point out the obvious risks. “Essentially the case is that the Trust failed to train its staff how to use the hoist properly. “That led to the staff devising their own way of using the machine. It was not intended by the manufacturer that the machine was used in that way. You don’t need hindsight to see that it was dangerous”.

“There was a lack of training, supervising and monitoring.” Mr Farrer said that the incident occurred during a break in Mr Biggadike’s physiotherapy to allow him to use a commode. A knee support on the hoist was removed and Mr Biggadike fell as he was being assisted up after using the commode. Mr Farrer said “When he finished using the commode two members of staff went to assist him. Almost immediately he collapsed and fell onto the post which penetrated his rectum causing catastrophic internal injuries and he died.”

The prosecutor said that since the fatal incident the Trust has introduced training for staff to use the Arjo Encore lifting hoist. United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust denied breach of health and safety regulations by exposing non-employees to risk by failing to train, supervise and monitor its employees in relation to the safe use of the lifting hoist.

However, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust now faces a fine after the jury found the organisation guilty of breaching health and safety legislation following the death of Mr Biggadike.

After a two week trial at Lincoln Crown Court a jury took just three hours to find the Trust guilty of failing to discharge a duty of care.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

The trial judge, Judge Michael Heath will have to assess the level of financial penalty to be paid by the Trust.

Judge Heath told jurors the sentencing hearing would be a “complicated” process.