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August 1, 2023


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£400,000 fine for two companies after hospital staff violently attacked by patients

Two companies have been fined a combined total of more than £400,000 after staff working at a South Wales mental health hospital were subjected to violent attacks by patients over a three year period.

Cardiff Magistrates Court heard that Priory Hospital in Aberdare – a facility owned by Parkcare Homes (No.2) Limited – was a specialised institution for people with complex mental health, behavioural and learning issues.

Over a three year period between 2014 and 2017, there were incidents of violence and aggression towards both care staff and patients, resulting in serious injuries, including loss of consciousness and permanent scarring.

Staff ‘not given’ personal safety alarms 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there were no suitable and sufficient risk assessments carried out and the equipment and environment was not fit to diffuse violent situations. Staff were not provided with adequate information or training to cope with patients with aggressive traits.

BodywornCameras-Healthcare-21The investigation also found that staff were not given the appropriate personal protective equipment, including bite resistant clothing and personal safety alarms.

Associations such as the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) have urged for renewed focus on NHS staff and lone worker protection.

The Association, which has more than 700 members across the healthcare sector, said that news of ‘abuse and harassment’ of NHS staff has increased in the past 12-24 months, with several reports of employees at higher risk due to a variety of factors.

A 2022 YouGov survey found that 67% of healthcare workers experienced physical abuse in the last 12 months, while 20% reported being subject to violence once a week.

NAHS Chair, Roger Ringham said: “We currently have no formal annual reporting of aggression against NHS staff nationally, all the data we have suggests this is a problem that is continuing to grow. With workload pressures also increasing, and many NHS Trusts struggling to recruit staff, improving safety is a priority.”

He added that technology has a significant role to play in supporting NHS staff and lone worker safety.

Firms such as Pinpoint have created staff safety alarms which staff can discreetly use to activate calls for Assistance and Emergency, aimed to address the increasing rates of violence. Pinpoint believes the abusive behaviour has an impact on staff morale, absenteeism, and retention in healthcare.

“Preventative measures” needed

The two companies were fined at a sentencing hearing on 26 July 2023 after entering guilty pleas at an earlier date. Parkcare Homes (No.2) and Priory Central Services Limited both pleaded guilty to breaching Sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Parkcare Homes was fined £363,000 and ordered to pay £43,656 in costs. Priory Central was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £21,828 in 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.”


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