Hospital trust facing charge over window maintenance following death of patient at Pilgrim Hospital

Investigations following the death of a patient at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital revealed the hospital had failed to carry out routine maintenance on windows for more than a decade, a jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

Adrian Bennett, 40, fell to his death from the fifth floor of the hospital in September 2011 after opening a kitchen window and climbing onto a ledge. At the time he was a patient in ward 5A where he was being treated for a number of injuries including fractures to his pelvis and ribs. Adam Farrer, prosecuting for the Health & Safety Executive, told the jury that faults were later found on the mechanism used to restrict the windows from being opened to a width of more than four inches.

But Mr Farrer told the jury: “The prosecution does not suggest that any lack of maintenance would have prevented Mr Bennett from opening the window. Even with a well-maintained brand-new restrictor an adult male has the strength to break the restrictor. The prosecution is not saying that Mr Bennett could not have forced that window open but the incident involving Mr Bennett is background to this case.”

The investigation revealed there had been no maintenance on the windows carried out since they were fitted in 2001.

The jury heard that windows in the tower block were examined following an alert issued by the Department of Health in 2007 to all hospital authorities.

And shortly before the death, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, had started a programme of checking the windows as it was the 10th anniversary of the windows being fitted. At time of the tragedy the fifth floor windows had yet to be examined. United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust denies a charge of breaching the 1992 Health and Safety Regulations by failing to maintain windows at the Pilgrim Hospital in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair between 1 January 2001 and September 28, 2011.

The trial, which started on Monday, continues.