Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust must pay £100k on fatal fall

Walsall | News | Published:

The trust that runs Walsall Manor Hospital has been handed a court bill of more than £100,000 after an elderly patient fell from a first floor window and later died. 

Great-grandfather-of-six Harry Riley, of Walsall Wood, fell more than 20ft and died of multiple injuries. Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust was fined £80,000 at Wolverhampton Crown Court for breaching health and safety laws by not carrying out a risk assessment. The 71-year-old, of Poxon Road and a retired foreman steel fixer, was admitted in January 2009.

He had suffered a stroke and spent a short time in an assessment unit.

The court heard he climbed on to a stool and table to get on to the window sill and fell out of the window, which had not been fitted with a restrictor.

A trial of issue was held after prosecutors rejected the trust's argument that the absence of a risk assessment did not cause or contribute to the death of Mr Riley and it was not "reasonably foreseeable".

But Judge Michael Challinor yesterday said that Mr Riley had been able to easily reach the window and ruled in favour of Mr Adam Farrer, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Bernard Thorogood, for the trust, said it was not "wilful neglect" and professional surveyors had not raised any concerns over the lack of window restrictor.

Judge Challinor said Mr Riley's death had been "entirely preventable".

On top of the fine, the Trust was told to pay £26,917 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Riley's daughter Janette Page, 53, of Brownhills, said: "Nothing is going to bring him back but I hope the Walsall healthcare trust has learnt a valuable lesson."

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