An acute trust has been fined £2.5m after pleading guilty to charges of failing to provide safe care after the deaths of two patients.
The Care Quality Commission brought charges against The Dudley Group Foundation Trust earlier this year over care failings in two separate cases which the regulator said exposed two patients to “significant risk of avoidable harm”.
The trust pleaded guilty to the charges in July and was fined during a sentencing hearing today.
The cases, involving 33-year-old mother of six Natalie Billingham, and 14-year-old Kaysie-Jane Bland [also known as Kaysie-Jayne Robinson], were both in 2018 and related to care at the trust’s Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.
Ms Billingham was admitted to Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital with numbness in her right foot on 28 February 2018 and died on 2 March of organ failure caused by a “time critical” infection.
The court was told she was initially thought to have a deep vein thrombosis after a three-minute triage that failed to identify "disordered" observations. The hospital then had multiple reasons to reconsider the initial diagnosis, but opportunities for review were "missed or ignored".
In the case of Kaysie-Jane, who had cerebral palsy, an "early warning score" was inaccurate, meaning a sepsis screening tool was not triggered.
The CQC said the care both patients received at Russells Hall Hospital was undermined by the Dudley Group’s failure to address known safety failings which the regulator repeatedly raised with the trust in the months before their deaths. The CQC said the trust did not take all reasonable steps to make improvements, despite its intervention. The trust has denied it did not react to the concerns raised.
Failings included errors in the hospital’s initial assessments and monitoring of both patients, which hindered the timely escalation of concerns.
A lawyer acting on behalf of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust had admitted the trust failed to provide treatment in a safe way, resulting in harm, in February and March 2018.
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Source: HSJ, 19 November 2021