• Both staff members had to be airlifted to hospital and “nearly died” from their injuries
  • Oxleas Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Trust has made changes following the incident

A trust has been fined £300,000 after two healthcare workers were repeatedly stabbed by a patient at a medium secure forensic unit.

Francis Barrett, a healthcare assistant, and Julius Falomo, a psychiatric nurse, were attacked by Myha Grant on 17 July 2016. Mr Grant had pushed into a kitchen area on a ward at the Bracton Centre near Dartford, Kent, and seized a knife. After the attack, Mr Grant obtained a lighter and started a fire.

Both Mr Barrett and Mr Falomo had to be airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London, where they received blood transfusions and surgery. Two other staff members, who had to hide on the ward during the attack, suffered emotional and psychological damage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found Oxleas Foundation Trust, which runs the centre, had not carried out patient specific risk assessments at the time of the incident. HSE also noted the use of knives on the acute ward was ”fundamentally unsafe”. All knives have since been removed from the acute wards. 

The trust pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. It was fined £300,000 yesterday and ordered to pay £28,000 costs.

Mr Grant had a history of violence and had schizoaffective disorder. Last year, he was given a lengthy jail sentence after admitting wounding with intent during the attack in July 2016. However, at that point, he remained in a secure hospital, detained under the Mental Health Act.  

Mr Barrett was in hospital for 12 days and was able to return to work on a phased basis while Mr Falomo – who had 17 stab wounds – was unable to return to work for eight months and has since had several periods off work because of his injuries.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joanne Williams explained the two men “nearly died” because of their injuries.

“The treatment of patients in medium secure psychiatric units involves an inherent risk of violence and aggression,” she said. “The needs of patients can be complex. However, the trust nevertheless had a duty to ensure the safety of its staff and its patients so far as was reasonably practicable.

“In this case there were relatively straightforward steps that could have been taken prior to the incident to prevent it happening. These included carrying out a patient specific risk assessment prior to admission to the ward; the removal of knives from acute admission wards; and proper training in search techniques.”

In a statement, Oxleas FT said it had carried out a full investigation into the issues on the ward and made a number of changes. Since these were implemented, the Care Quality Commission has rated the services at the Bracton Centre as “good”, including for safety.

Chief executive Matthew Trainer said: “The safety of our staff and patients is one of our core values as an organisation and we take this very seriously. We support and encourage all members of staff to consider any risks they encounter at work and to work with colleagues and our health and safety team to reduce these.”