PERFORMANCE: Medway NHS Foundation Trust has been sentenced for safety failings after a vulnerable patient died following a fall from a first floor window at Medway Maritime Hospital.

Danny Jewitt, 45, from Gillingham, sustained serious chest injuries in the incident on 10 May 2009 and was pronounced dead later the same day. Last month Maidstone Crown Court ordered the trust to pay more than £61,000 in fines and costs for the offence.

The Court heard on 25 January that Mr Jewitt had been admitted to the hospital suffering with alcohol dependency and was prone to confusion. He fell almost five metres to a flower bed from a side room window on the Keats ward.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive established that the window had been left wide-open, and was one of a number of windows on the ward that were unrestricted.

Guidance has been in place since 1989 stating that windows in hospitals where there are vulnerable patients should be restricted to a maximum opening of just 10cm to prevent falls.

HSE also identified that in October 2007 the Department of Health issued an alert requiring all NHS establishments to take action to fit window restrictors before 5 February the following year.

The trust received this alert and had identified a large number of missing or broken restrictors, but taken no action.

In April 2008, the window in the room Mr Jewitt later occupied was flagged as requiring attention, but it was left untouched until his death more than a year later.

The trust was fined £42,000 and ordered to pay £19,073 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Liz Smith said: “The tragic death of Mr Jewitt was entirely preventable. The trust knew the window in his room required urgent attention, and had a suitable restrictor been fitted in a timely manner then he would never have fallen in the way he did.”