West Law Report

NHS trust fine is reduced

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on October 19, 2008

From The Times
October 10, 2008
NHS trust fine is reduced
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Published October 10, 2008
Regina v Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust

It was against the public interest to punish by a large fine a not-for-profit organisation, carrying out work for the public benefit, where a failing occurred without fault on the part of that body, but through an act or default of an employee, to whom the task was properly delegated and who was properly trained.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division (Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Judge Brodrick) so held on October 2, 2008, allowing an appeal by Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust against a fine of £75,000, imposed by Judge Loraine-Smith, under section 64(1) of the Medicines Act 1968 at Southwark Crown Court on May 23, 2008, following its guilty plea to supplying a medical product not of a nature or quality specified in a prescription.

LORD JUSTICE TOULSON, giving the judgment of the court, said that the £75,000 fine failed to give adequate recognition to the fact that this was a case of vicarious liability for the acts of two employees whose work had been properly delegated and who had been properly trained.

It failed to recognise the detriment to the public of imposing a fine which would seriously impact on the trust’s ability to serve the public, representing an amount equivalent to the cost of employing 2½ members of staff.

A fine, rather than a conditional discharge was still necessary even where there had not been management negligence, to cause those responsible for running the trust to redouble their efforts to ensure that staff were kept up to the mark. The £75,000 was substituted by a fine for £15,000.

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