BUPA Care Homes has been fined £3m after an 86-year-old man died from contracting Legionnaires’ disease in a ‘shocking’ series of failures committed by his care home provider.
Kenneth Ibbetson, died three months after moving into Hutton Village Nursing Home, in Essex, Ipswich Crown Court heard today.
Mr Ibbetson had moved into the care home in March 2015 when he was no longer able to cope at home. In June 2015 Mr Ibbetson contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a serious waterborne form of pneumonia, and later died in Basildon Hospital on 23 June 2015.
An investigation into his death, carried out by HSE, found that failures occurred during major refurbishment works that took place over the course of more than a year.
BUPA Care Homes Ltd, which operated the nursing home, failed to implement the necessary control and monitoring measures required to safely manage their hot and cold water system.
HSE also found those responsible for overseeing legionella controls and for taking crucial water temperature measurements had not been trained to the required standard.
BUPA Care Homes Ltd of Bridge House, Outwood Lane, Leeds, pleaded to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £3m and ordered to pay costs of £151,482.
Mr Ibbetson’s daughter Caroline Peters told the court: “Our father’s tragic and untimely death was a terrible shock to me and my two sisters. We had carefully selected Bupa Nursing Home at Hutton Village, expecting that a leading health care company could be trusted with our father’s health and safety. (His death) shouldn’t have happened.
“The evidence (of)…non-conformities and lack of managerial training was shocking and depressing and brought on feelings of utter despair for our family.”
Speaking after the hearing, investigating HSE principal inspector Vicky Fletcher said: “t is heart-breaking to think Kenneth contracted Legionnaires’ a matter of weeks after moving into the Hutton Village Care Home. His family have been left devastated by his sudden death.
“Mr Ibbetson and other residents were exposed to the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease because adequate controls were not in place. The risk is more acute in care home settings because residents are more susceptible due to their underlying health conditions. We would expect those who have a duty of care to understand this and have the necessary controls in place to manage the risk.”
In a statement, Joan Elliott, managing director for Bupa Care Services, said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Ibbetson’s family and friends, and we are deeply sorry.
Our residents’ wellbeing always comes first. We’ve made a number of improvements across all of our care homes to make sure colleagues’ training is kept up to date, this is important to offering the best care for our residents.”
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