NHS fined £32,000 after nurse attacked

Haddington Sheriff Court

Haddington Sheriff Court

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NHS Lothian has today been fined £32,000 for safety failings after a worker was attacked while making a home visit to a patient with mental health issues.

Magdalene Anderson, an NHS Lothian psychiatric nurse with almost 30 years’ experience in the health service, was jumped on from behind and thrown to the floor before having clumps of hair torn from her scalp, after being sent alone to the Tranent home of her attacker.

During the ordeal, which lasted several minutes, Miss Anderson’s head was shaken by the 58-year-old patient – who had previously attempted to attack another NHS employee with a sharp implement while in Herdmanflat Hospital – before she was able to break free and escape.

The assault led to Miss Anderson suffering distressing flashbacks after the incident.

NHS Lothian earlier pleaded guilty to two charges brought at Haddington Sheriff Court following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE inspector Lindsey Stein, said: “Lothian Health Board failed to appropriately manage the risks associated with nurses making lone home visits to clients with histories of violence towards staff.

“This employee was not properly supported or trained to deal with a patient she was visiting who was known to have been violent towards staff in the past as a result of her long standing mental health issues.

“The board’s failure to protect its employee was added to by its failure to report the incident for eight months.”

In court last week, Peter Gray QC, representing NHS Lothian, said failures were a matter of “regret and concern” but argued there were a series of mitigating factors.

“This is an isolated incident in an organisation which in regard to health and safety is extremely well-run,” he said. “The health board is publicly funded and therefore ultimately, it’s the taxpayer who pays.”