Care provider fined after man falls to his death

A magistrates’ court has ordered a care provider to pay over £80,000 after a 57-year-old man died following the failure of a window restrictor that had not been upgraded for 15 years despite warnings.

St John’s Nursing Home Limited in Hailing Park Road, South Croydon, Surrey, pleaded guilty at Croydon Magistrates’ Court last week to failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm to Stephen Verrall while he was resident at the home.

The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £3,474 prosecution costs, plus a £170 victim surcharge at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on 3 February in a prosecution brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

St John’s Nursing Home Limited is a registered nursing home for people who require nursing or personal care.

On 17 October 2017 Mr Verrall was found in the car park outside, having had an unwitnessed fall from his bedroom. He was taken to St. George’s Hospital where he later died on 19 October 2017.

The window from which he fell had been restricted by a single metal chain attached by screws to an aluminium frame. This had been in place for at least 15 years. A health and safety consultant attended the home the day after the incident and advised a change to all the window restrictors with chains, because they were not strong enough. The windows were later replaced in February 2018 with built in window restrictors.

Neil Cox, CQC’s Head of Inspection for Adult Social Care, said the case was distressing and offered sympathy to Mr Verrall’s family, adding that it should remind care providers to manage risk effectively.

“Where we find any provider has put people using its services at risk of harm, we take action to hold them to account and protect people. We hope this prosecution reminds care providers that they must always ensure people’s safety and manage risks to their wellbeing,” he said.

Date Published: February 8, 2021