• Chief executive fined for trust’s delays in disclosing serious incident reports to coroner
  • Coroner describes one incident investigation as “dog’s dinner”
  • Trust criticised for inadequate patient death reports

A trust chief executive has been fined after her organisation failed to disclose serious incident investigations to a coroner.

Isle of Wight Trust’s chief executive, Maggie Oldham, was issued a £500 fine in March because the trust failed to disclose the investigations before the coroner closed inquiries into hospital deaths.

The trust said it is tackling a backlog of serious incident investigations.

Papers from an April board meeting said the chief executive had met with the Isle of Wight coroner on “a number of occasions” to discuss the coroner’s concerns that “administrative problems in the trust’s processes have caused delays to the inquest process”.

“The trust has overhauled its approach, improved training and is recruiting additional and new staff,” the report added.

The trust has paid the fine, which was issued to Ms Oldham as its senior responsible officer.

Although he said he could not comment on the specific case, Simon Turner, partner at law firm Weightmans, told HSJ: “Commenting generally, it would be rare in our experience for such a fine to be levied against a trust, not least because coroners do not tend to issue Schedule 5 [of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which grants coroners powers to require evidence to be given or produced] notices until after they have made previous request(s) which have not been responded to or complied with.

“Further, the fact a Schedule 5 notice has been threatened or issued tends to lead to the action required given the potential reputational damage for an organisation failing to comply, not to mention the potential damage to the organisation’s professional relationship with that coroner.”

Caroline Sumeray, the coroner, also criticised the special measures trust for producing inadequate reports into three patient deaths.

According to a BBC News report, Ms Sumeray halted one hearing to summon Ms Oldham and tell her: “I am tired of being fobbed off with people who are second best doing this.” The investigation had been carried out by a law graduate with just one day’s training in serious incident investigations.

Ms Sumeray described another investigation as a “dog’s dinner”. 

An Isle of Wight Trust spokeswoman told HSJ: “We apologise unreservedly for the delay in processing a number of serious incident investigations.

“Our patients and their families rightly expect better, so we have overhauled the way we manage these cases and are making good progress clearing the backlog.” 

Ms Oldham was appointed interim chief executive in May 2017 before being made substantive in December 2017. 

She joined the trust after it was put in special measures. The Care Quality Commission, which prompted the trust entering the regime, also rated the provider “inadequate” for leadership and safety. 

CQC inspectors revisited the trust’s urgent and emergency services at St Mary’s Hospital in January 2019. Inspectors were “not assured” patients were being treated fast enough and found a “significant shortage of qualified nurses,” ordering the trust to rectify these issues.

Ms Oldham was also chief executive of Mid Staffordshire from 2013 until it was dissolved. She joined the leadership team in 2010, after the care failures between 2007 and 2009 were revealed.