The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of a diabetes patient who died after nurses failed to give her insulin and check her blood glucose levels.
Gillian Astbury, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, fell into a fatal diabetic coma while being treated at Stafford Hospital in April 2007 for fractures to her arm and pelvis. She died in the early hours of April 11 2007, ten days after being admitted to the hospital.
Following her death, an inquest jury ruled that low staffing levels and a systemic failure to provide adequate nursing facilities at the Stafford Hospital contributed to Mrs Astbury’s death. It also concluded that the failure to administer insulin to the 66-year-old amounted to a gross failure to provide basic care.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) began criminal prosecution against the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust earlier this year, and on Wednesday (October 9) the troubled hospital trust pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at a hearing at Stafford Magistrates’ Court.
It admitted to failing to properly manage and organise hospital services, including its systems for record-keeping, patient information and communication between staff members.
Prosecutor Bernard Thorogood said: “Mrs Astbury came into hospital for care and as a direct result of the defendant’s failings, she died. The harm caused is of the highest level of gravity – the loss of a life.”
The lawyer added that “such a sensitive and important matter” should be properly dealt with by a Crown Court judge, particularly as the criminal case is the only one “to have been brought in connection with the problems which everybody nationally knows about at the Trust”.
As well as the possibility of Crown Court proceedings, the scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust also faces an unlimited fine.

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