Private healthcare firm behind Hitchin hospital fined £550,000
PUBLISHED: 16:43 02 November 2017
A healthcare provider that runs a private hospital in Hitchin has been fined more than half a million pounds after failing to act on safety concerns raised by an occupational health nurse.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Ramsay Health Care UK – which runs Pinehill Hospital in Benslow Lane – compromised the health and safety of employees and patients by failing to sufficiently staff its internal occupational health service.
A Ramsay employee called Lynne Betts raised concerns about how the service was run in June 2014, and an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive led to four improvement notices being served.
The HSE investigation also found that the company failed to provide adequate health surveillance for its workers.
As a consequence, a nurse working at Boston West Hospital in Lincolnshire was diagnosed with occupational dermatitis in January 2015 – with the skin condition later spreading from her hands to her arms and legs.
Ramsay Health Care (UK) Operations Ltd, based in Bedford, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
At Southwark Crown Court on Monday, the company was fined £550,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,320.44.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page said: “Healthcare providers should be aware of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees as well as their patients and service users.
“HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations.”
A Ramsay Health Care UK spokeswoman told the Comet: “The safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients is always of the utmost importance to Ramsay Health Care UK.
“After working together with the HSE, we are now confident that we have the appropriate resources, processes and policies in place to ensure a robust occupational health service is delivered. We will continue to seek new ways to further improve the working environment for our staff.”
Ramsay Health Care UK was founded in 2007 and is part of the Australian healthcare group of the same name, which dates back to 1964.
Ramsay operates 36 facilities in the UK and more than 100 others in Australia, France, Indonesia and Malaysia.