Healthcare group Bupa has been ordered to pay a £3 million fine by a Court, after the organisation pleaded guilty to a number of health and safety failings.
At Ipswich Crown Court last week, the healthcare provider was accused of “significant and serious” safety failings in one of its care homes following an investigation led by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The investigation arose following the ‘sudden’ death of Mr Kenneth Ibbetson, an 86-year-old resident at Bupa’s Hutton Village Care Home in Essex, which occurred very shortly after he had moved into the home.
Mr Ibbetson died from Legionnaire’s disease in June 2015, but red flags were raised after it emerged that concerns regarding Legionnaire’s risk at the care home had previously been raised back in 2012, indicating that Bupa had taken insufficient action to address the problem.
HSE’s investigation found that Bupa had failed to implement adequate ‘control and monitoring measures’ to safely manage the care home’s hot and cold water systems.
In addition, it found that the members of staff responsible for monitoring water temperature and overseeing the home’s Legionella controls had not been properly trained by Bupa to the required standard.
Vicky Fletcher, Principal Inspector at the HSE, said: “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 response, Bupa admitted to a number of health and safety failings in Court and was fined a total of £3 million by Ipswich Crown Court. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £151,482.
A Bupa spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Ibbetson’s family and friends, and we are deeply sorry.
“We have fully supported the Health and Safety Executive with their investigation [and] we’ve made a number of improvements across all of our care homes to make sure colleagues’ training is kept up to date, [as] this is important to offer the best care for our residents.”