First NHS Trust charged with corporate manslaughter

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust have been charged with corporate manslaughter in relation to the death of pregnant woman during an emergency caesarean section in October 2012. It is stated that the birth was safely performed but following the procedure there were complications in relation to general anaesthetic for a post op procedure to remove additional tissue.

The charge, being the first of its kind against the Trust, must meet a very high bar to secure a conviction. The prosecution catalogue a series of failings at the Trust which resulted in the employment of an anaesthetist who was not sufficiently qualified and also not properly supervised. For this prosecution to be successful it must be proved that the way that the Trust managed its affairs caused the death of the individual and as a consequence grossly breached the duty of care to the individual involved.

This case serves as a reminder to members of the care profession to ensure that policies and procedures are in place and Homes are properly managed to best protect an organisation from such a prosecution. One would expect such management oversight at organisation-wide and individual levels to be the minimum standard that providers in the sector are measuring themselves against. The sentence for an organisation found guilty of corporate manslaughter is an unlimited fine.

The trial continues.

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