MENTAL health chiefs have been ordered by magistrates to pay £80,000 after a patient fell from the roof of a Stratton hospital following an 11 hour stand-off.

The Care Quality Commission said there was no excuse for failures by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust to protect their patients. The trust is one of only three NHS organisations to be taken to court by the CQC.

The watchdog brought the prosecution following an incident at Applewood ward, Sandalwood Court, in 2016. A patient managed to jump from the garden of the unit onto a low roof and refused to come down. 

Emergency services were unable to persuade the patient to come down. Around 11 hours after they got onto the roof, the patient fell – breaking their leg, skull, jaw and nose. 

The CQC said AWP had been warned repeatedly about the risks posed by the low roof. Patients had previously managed to get onto it and, in 2015, there were 28 direct references at seven different AWP forums about the risk from the roof.

Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “There is no excuse for this failure by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership to protect their patients from harm. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident – but part of a wider failure to deal with concerns over safety as they arose.

“The trust had failed to make basic improvements to protect the people in its care, despite having been aware of the dangers for years. They ignored clear evidence from their own reports on safety and as a result a patient suffered serious injury.

“In the circumstances, we had no choice but to prosecute in the criminal courts. I hope this case will serve as a warning to any other providers.”

AWP admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment to people in its care. Taunton magistrates fined the trust £80,000 and ordered it to pay the prosecution costs of £12,033.96 and a £170 victim surcharge. 

Dominic Hardisty, AWP chief executive, said: “A patient suffered from harm whilst under our care and we offer them our sincere apologies for this.  We let them and the NHS down, and have subsequently embarked upon a significant programme of changes to prevent something like this happening again.

“We are continuing to work with NHS England to ensure that funding is made available for further improvement works needed. In the mean-time we are carefully planning care and managing risk of harm on a patient-by-patient basis."