A mental health trust has admitted a serious Health & Safety charge after a patient fell from a chimney tower.

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SABP) admitted breaking the employer’s general duty of care to non-employees under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The mental health patient died after falling 130ft from an industrial chimney on hospital grounds.

Avoidable death

The NHS trust accepted it had failed to protect the patient who had told staff he wanted to climb the chimney’s ladder. The young man suffered from an acute psychotic illness.

Patients had a history of escaping over the mental ward’s roof which was next to the chimney. Indeed, the victim himself had previously done so.

An inquest found SABP’s failures led to the death. The trust had failed to reassess the patient’s risk levels. The inquest heard the chimney site was unsecured and had an easily accessible ladder.

SABP pleaded guilty at court having accepted it fell short of the standards required by Health & Safety law.

It will be sentenced on 22 June.

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