Two nursing home owners fined over death of pensioner in Leicester
Two nursing home owners have been ordered to pay a total of £140,000 after a pensioner died following a fall from a hoist.
Annie Bradley fell while being moved from her bed to a chair at Harley House Nursing Home, in Elms Road, South Knighton, Leicester.
The 78-year-old, known as Vera, banged her head and died the next day, on July 20, 2008.
Sisters Fatima and Munira Mawji, who owned the home at the time, admitted breaching health and safety rules by failing to ensure the safety of Miss Bradley, who had Huntingdon's disease.
This voucher entitles you to 25% of any of our Nottingham Photography Courses:
One Day intro to DSLR Photography
Portrait and Studio
Evening City Photography
Terms: You can only use the one voucher per course. You cannot use this voucher in conjunction with any other offer.
Contact: 01159 078634
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Leicester Crown Court was told the defective 15-year-old hoist was in such a poor condition it could not be used safely and that it had not been properly inspected regularly.
The hoist sling had a two-year lifespan but had been in use for nine.
Jonathan Salmon, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: "This tragic accident was entirely avoidable, foreseeable and, perhaps, the sadness is it wouldn't have cost vast amounts of money to do what is fairly basic maintenance and provision of appropriate slings."
The HSE found the the nurse and care assistant operating Miss Bradley's hoist had limited training in manual handling.
They also found an unqualified member of staff had been completing maintenance checks at the home.
Munira Mawji (44), of Scraptoft Lane, Scraptoft, Leicester, and Fatima (45), of Facers Lane, Scraptoft, were each fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs.
Sentencing, Judge Robert Brown told the defendants their provision of care fell "far below" the standards required.
He said Munira, when questioned, initially blamed the nurse and then the care home manager for the accident.
The court heard the sisters bought 25-bed Harley House in 2004. Miss Bradley was already a resident.
Judge Brown said: "Health and safety must be an overriding duty of any owner of a residential nursing home.
"I accept there are positive features in the management of this home, as various reports of inspections show."
Mark Balysz, mitigating, said it was an "oversight" the hoists were not inspected every six months, as they should have been.
He said outside contractors did complete safety checks but the hoist inspections were inadvertently missed off the contract relating to Harley House, which is now under new ownership.
The defendants, both mothers of three, were of previous good character and had not previously breached health and safety regulations, the court heard.
There was no criticism of their other homes.
Mr Balysz said: "Both defendants are truly sorry for the death of Miss Bradley."
He said training of staff was by an outside agency and the sisters were unaware it was substandard.
Residents and their relatives had spoken highly of the quality of care at the defendants' homes during official inspections, the court heard.
After the sentencing, Miss Bradley's two sisters, who did not want to be named, issued a statement.
It said: "We knew Vera wasn't well but we didn't expect her to die so unexpectedly and in such a manner.
"We wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else or any other family to have to go through what we've gone through."
HSE inspector Dr Richenda Dixon said: "With properly-maintained equipment, better training and supervision, this incident was easily preventable."