Inspection and Regulation

04.01.19

NHS trust fined £300,000 after two employees repeatedly stabbed by patient

An NHS trust has been fined £300,000 after two healthcare workers suffered life-changing injuries when they were repeatedly stabbed by a patient at a medium secure forensic unit in Kent.

The Old Bailey heard how, on 17 July 2016, healthcare assistant Francis Barrett and psychiatric nurse Julius Falomo were attacked by Myha Grant at NHS Oxleas Foundation Trust.

The service user managed to push the healthcare assistant through a door into a kitchen, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Barrett multiple times in the chest and stomach, which he later described feeling like a piece of meat being prepared for cooking in his victim impact statement.

Julius Falomo saw what was happening and shouted for help before being stabbed around 17 times.

The court heard that both employees were treated for their multiple stab wounds and air lifted Kings Hospital where they received blood transfusions and surgery.

Whilst Grant was arrested by armed police after trying to start a small fire in the medium secure forensic unit, Barrett required several operations before making a phased return to work; and Falomo was unable to return until March 2017, has since had several periods of work off due to the injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although the Bracton Centre routinely received high-risk patients, but that there was no patient specific risk assessment identifying the risks posed by the patient.

The use of knives on the acute ward was found to be fundamentally unsafe, with all knives now removed from the acute wards, and the investigation identified that Grant has a history of violence and had schizoaffective disorder.

NHS Oxleas FT pleaded guilty to breaching regulations, and was fined £300,000 plus costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joanne Williams said: “This incident has had a profound impact not only on the two nurses who nearly died because of their injuries, but also their colleagues who witnessed the attacks.

“These NHS workers dedicated themselves to a public duty that came with daily challenges and the Trust had a responsibility to keep them safe.”

She said treating patients in medium secure psychiatric units involves “inherent risk of violence and aggression,” but the trust had a duty to ensure the safety of its staff and patients.

She added: “The risk of violence posed by patients was entirely foreseeable. Had these steps been taken Francis Barrett and Julius Falomo would not have suffered the serious injuries that they did.”

The NHS trust said it has carried out a full investigation into the issues, with the CQC rating services at the Bracton Centre as ‘good’ since changes had been implemented.

Matthew Trainer, the trust’s chief executive, commented: “The safety of our staff and patients is one of our core values as an organisation and we take this very seriously.

“We support and encourage all members of staff to consider any risks they encounter at work and to work with colleagues and our health and safety team to reduce these.”

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