The first prosecution of a care provider last week by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) since taking over enforcement powers from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in 2015 sounds a warning for the care sector, says law firm Bevan Brittan.
The CQC brought a prosecution for failing to provide safe care and treatment against St Anne’s Community Services, a not for profit charitable organisation, following the tragic death of a resident at one of its care homes in West Yorkshire in April 2015.
Last week, a District Judge at Bradford Magistrates’ Court fined St Anne’s Community Services £190,000 plus costs.
This marked a reduction in the fine that could have been levied which was in the range of £300,000 to £1.3 million under the new guidelines, due to considerable mitigating factors and the defendant’s early guilty plea.
Bevan Brittan, led by associate Sarah Knight, represented St Anne’s Community Services.
Stuart Marchant, partner at Bevan Brittan, said that the prosecution marks a significant moment for the sector: “The scale of the fine, though a substantial reduction on the guidelines, shows the financial risks that providers face under the new health and safety regime when the everyday operation of care services goes wrong. CQC will be pushing ahead with more health and safety prosecutions and the fines can be truly substantial.
“It is crucial that providers do everything they can to avoid incidents in the first place, by having effective risk assessments and training in place. Where there is an incident, it is critical to act quickly in response, and to learn and take action to prevent any recurrence in the future.”