£400,000 in fines for companies following violent attacks in hospitals

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Workplace harassment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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Two companies have been issued with a combined £400,000 in fines, following attacks on staff by patients in a South Wales mental health hospital.

The staff, employees of Parkcare Homes (No.2) Limited and Priory Central Services Limited, were subjected to these violent attacks by patients over a three-year period.

The attacks took place in Priory Hospital in Aberdare, a facility owned by Parkcare Homes (No.2) Limited. The hospital was a specialised institution for people with complex mental health, behavioural and learning issues. At any one time, staff were caring for up to 12 in-patients.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that incidents of violence and aggression against staff had gone unchecked for three years, between 2014-2017. Incidents resulted in serious injuries, including loss of consciousness and permanent scarring.

In 2016, the frequency and severity of incidents prompted senior management to formally raise concerns with Priory Central Services Limited. PCS, who employed the staff at Aberdare, were responsible for providing training and equipment. They failed to take prompt and appropriate action, and the incidents of violence and aggression continued.

HSE found that neither Parkcare nor PCS had suitable risk assessments to control violence and aggression in place. Equipment provided was inadequate, and the environment was unsuited to diffuse violent situations. Training and information to cope with aggressive patients was deemed inadequate.

There was no post-incident process, and no debrief sessions to gather facts that might prevent reoccurrence. No incident investigations were carried out, and injured staff were not involved in decision-making, despite repeated serious and significant injuries being caused.

Parkcare Homes (No.2) Limited was charged with breaching Sections 2(1) & 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They pleaded guilty and were fined £363,000 with £43,656 in legal costs.

Priory Central Services Limited were charged with breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They also pleaded guilty and were fined £40,000 with £21,828 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Anne Marie Orrells said:

“Priory are a leading independent provider of mental healthcare and adult social care in the UK. It is a long-established company and despite repeated warnings about systemic failures it failed to prevent its staff being injured.

“Care providers should have adequate arrangements to effectively plan and organise preventative measures to prevent violence towards staff and other patients.”

For information on associated topics, head to BrAInbox today for answers to questions like Does my company need to display aggression awareness posters?

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