The HSE has announced its intention to prosecute Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the death of one of a patient in April 2007.
The Executive deferred a decision to pursue its own investigation into Mrs Astbury’s death until the conclusion of a public inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, into failings at the Trust, which are believed to have contributed to hundreds of patient deaths between 2005 and 2009.
The inquest into Gillian Astbury’s death returned a verdict of ‘death by neglect’, and judged that the neglect was caused by a ‘gross’ failure in the basic care of Mrs Astbury, particularly the failure to administer insulin and measure blood-sugar levels on the day before her death.
Peter Galsworthy, HSE head of operations in the West Midlands, said, “We have concluded our investigation into the death of Gillian Astbury at Stafford Hospital and have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in this case.
“HSE will be charging Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust under section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974. 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.”
The Francis Inquiry report, which was published in February, concluded that the Trust had put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patient safety. But it also identified the existence of a “regulatory gap” between the HSE and the primary-care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (formerly the Healthcare Commission).
In March, in response to the Francis report, the Government promised to give the HSE more resources to help it prosecute in incidents where suspected criminally-negligent practices in hospitals are identified.
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is due to appear before Stafford Magistrates’ Court on 9 October.