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NHS Trust fined over patient death

An NHS Foundation Trust has been sentenced for safety failings after a vulnerable patient died following a fall from a first floor window of a hospital in Gillingham.

Danny Jewitt sustained serious chest injuries in the incident and was pronounced dead later the same day. Maidstone Crown Court ordered the Trust to pay more than £61,000 in fines and costs for the offence.

The Court heard that he had been admitted to the hospital suffering with alcohol dependency and was prone to confusion. He plunged almost five metres to a flower bed below after falling from a side room window.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the window had been left wide-open, and was one of a number of windows on the ward that were unrestricted.

Guidance has been in place since 1989 stating that windows in hospitals where there are vulnerable patients should be restricted to a maximum opening of just ten centimetres to prevent falls.

HSE also identified that in October 2007 the Department of Health issued an alert requiring all NHS establishments to take action to fit window restrictors. The Trust received this alert and had identified a large number of missing or broken restrictors, but taken no action.

HSE statistics show that at least 30 people in healthcare settings have been killed as a result of falls from unrestricted windows in the last ten years.

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