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Mental health services provider fined £10,000 after patient’s first floor fall

A mental health services provider has been fined £10,000 for safety failings after a resident service user with a history of trying to abscond fell from the first floor window of a secure unit in Harlow.

The 18-year-old, who does not wish to be named, suffered two fractures to her back and a dislocated right knee after falling a distance of three-and-a-half metres from her dormitory bedroom window at the Derwent Centre on Hamstel Road on 27th July 2013.

North Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust (NEPUFT) was prosecuted on 21st October after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the fall.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told the incident could have been prevented had a window restrictor on her bedroom dormitory window been properly set to the requisite 100mm.

North Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, of Stapleford House, Stapleford Close, Chelmsford, was also ordered to pay costs of £615 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Kim Tichias, said: “The risks of vulnerable patients falling from windows are well known.

“There have been a number of similar accidents in recent years, including fatalities, and any windows that are accessible to vulnerable people should be restrained so that they cannot be opened far enough to allow people to fall out.

“This incident is all the more serious because it involves a member of the public who was in this environment specifically to ensure her safety and well-being.

“Furthermore, the Trust was aware of the risks but had not put adequate safety measures in place in a timely manner.

“A window restrictor, correctly set to allow a maximum opening of 100mm, would have prevented this incident and the serious injuries suffered.”

If you have suffered an injury in an accident that was not your fault then you could be entitled to compensation.

Contact Lloyd Green Solicitors on 0800 015 5500 for more information.