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Care home company fined £450,000 after woman drowned in bath

Glasgow Sheriff Court, where the company was found guilty of health and safety breaches (Danny Lawson)
Glasgow Sheriff Court, where the company was found guilty of health and safety breaches (Danny Lawson)

A care home firm has been fined £450,000 after a catalogue of health and safety failings led to a vulnerable resident drowning in a bath.

Margaret Glasgow was a resident of Cherry Tree Court in Cambuslang and on the night of June 10 2016 drowned, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard.

On Thursday, the Crown Office said, the company behind the care home was fined £450,000 at the court after it was found guilty of failings under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit at the Crown Office, said: “This tragic incident could have been prevented had suitable and sufficient measures been put in place.”

Prosecutors said the 59-year-old, who had severe learning difficulties, got out of her bed without the knowledge of support workers, and went into her bathroom.

She then filled the bath with water, climbed into the bath, and drowned.

Her death sparked an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, who found a catalogue of failings by owners Richmond Fellowship Scotland Ltd, the Crown Office said.

During the 16-day trial the Crown argued the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment to identify her needs and the measures required to ensure her safety prior to becoming a resident at Cherry Tree Court.

The Crown Office also said the company failed to have in place a system of work to ensure that staff were made aware that the water to her flat needed to be turned off at the water main at bedtime, and that they knew where the water main was and how to turn it off properly.

The company had not given staff instruction on how to carry out appropriate checks on the residents under their care, the Crown said.

And, prosecutors said, there was no check sheet which covered all relevant information relating to the care of Ms Glasgow, or suitable and reliable equipment to alert staff to movement within her flat.

Richmond Fellowship Scotland Ltd, based in North Lanarkshire’s Stepps, introduced several new procedures at Cherry Tree Court soon after the incident, which the Crown Office said demonstrated it was reasonably practicable for these measures to have been in place before her death.

Mr Duncan said evidence from the Crown “allowed the jury to come to a unanimous verdict”, and added: “Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will serve to highlight to other similar organisations that failure to fulfil their health and safety obligations can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”

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