Lothian Health Board has been fined £32,000 after admitting to failings which led to a nurse being attacked in Tranent by a dangerous schizophrenic patient.
Nurse Magdalene Anderson was jumped from behind and had clumps of her hair ripped from her head after being sent on her own to the home of her attacker.
During the savage assault Ms Anderson – a nurse with 30 years’ experience – had her head violently shaken by the 58-year-old man before she managed to break free and escape the house.
The patient, who had suffered with psychiatric illness for three decades, had previously attempted to attack another NHS employee with a blade.
Last week NHS Lothian pleaded guilty at Haddington Sheriff Court to two charges of negligence following an inquiry by the Health and Safety Executive.
The court was told the health board had not carried out a proper risk assessment for the East Lothian community mental health team, which Ms Anderson was part of, and that a risk assessment for the attacker had not been carried out properly.
The court also heard NHS Lothian had taken eight months to inform the HSE of the attack, rather than the stipulated ten days, following the attack on March 25, 2009.
Only two of 12 team members had up-to-date training for dealing with violent patients and the health body had no system in place for dealing with emergency situations.
Passing sentence last Wednesday, Sheriff Peter Braid said the health board had admitted two contraventions of the Health and Safety at Work 1974.
“Charge one is a breach of the general duty towards employees, and charge two is a failure to report or notify the incident timeously.”
Sheriff Braid said the incident which led to both charges was the assault of an employee at Herdmanflat Hospital, in Haddington, who was conducting a home visit to a patient previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and who was known to constitute a risk. He noted that the “principal fault” of the incident lay with the local departmental manager in charge of the community mental health team at the hospital.
Sheriff Braid added: “The board’s own culpability lies in the failure to audit that its procedures were carried out, and in the failure to check the team’s register had been properly completed, when it had not.”
More stories from Haddington Sheriff Court in this week’s East Lothian News, on sale now.