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Hospital trust fined following death of diabetic patient

Posted in: Medical Negligence Wrongful & Accidental Death 

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust has pleaded guilty to safety breaches after a diabetic patient died in 2007.  Gillian Astbury (66), from Hednesford in Staffordshire, died at Stafford Hospital after two nurses failed to provide her with insulin, causing her to fall into a diabetic coma.  The Nursing and Midwifery Council panel cautioned one of the nurses responsible, Jeannette Coulson, yet Ann King was struck off completely after both were found guilty of misconduct.

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust now faces a large fine after pleading guilty to failures in hospital management and organisation of services: this includes the hospital’s record keeping and information sharing system.  This follows Magistrates ruling their sentencing powers insufficient for the level of offence, as they could only enforce a maximum fine of £20,000.  The trust will now face the Crown Court where an unlimited fine can be imposed.

Punishing those responsible

A statement that was recently released by Ms Astbury’s full-time carer, Ron Street, said: “The financial fine of the trust is not the issue, as whatever the level of the fine it will only hinder the hospital which is otherwise trying to get back on its feet.” He believes that more should have been done in the way of directly punishing those responsible for Ms Astbury’s death.

The trust has accepted the decision to refer the case to the higher court and has frequently apologised for the level of care that Ms Astbury received.  Chief executive Maggie Oldham said that “the hospital has improved considerably” since the accident, with the hope “to put those things right”.

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