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Healthcare provider’s surveillance missed skin disease symptoms

A private healthcare provider that compromised the health of its employees and patients has been fined more than half a million pounds.

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into Bedford-based Ramsay Health Care (UK) Operations after occupational health nurse Lynne Betts reported in June 2014 that she was concerned about how its internal occupational health service was being run. 

The executive served four improvement notices on Ramsay Health Care after it found the company had not appointed enough occupational health professionals to run the service. Employees, patients and members of the general public were put at risk of ill health and infection as a result, the HSE said. 

The company had also failed to carry out adequate health surveillance of its own staff, Southwark Crown Court was told. As a result of this failure, a nurse working at Boston West Hospital in Lincolnshire was diagnosed with occupational dermatitis in January 2015, which later spread from her hands to her arms and legs. 

Ramsay Health Care (UK) Operations, which runs 36 private hospitals in the UK, pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £550,000 and ordered to pay costs exceeding £36,000.

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.”

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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