Rotherham Hospital Trust fined £233,000 after four children were exposed to “significant risk of avoidable harm”

Bosses at the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust have apologised after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide safe care and treatment to four young children.
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The trust has been ordered to pay a total of £233,238 after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide safe care and treatment to four young children.

The trust has pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment exposing the children to a significant risk of avoidable harm, as well as exposing other patients to a significant risk of avoidable harm, following a sentencing hearing on October 26 at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.

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The Care Quality Comission (CQC) stated that a child atended the urgent and emergency care centre (UECC) at Rotherham General Hospital on 1 October 2019 with unexplained facial bruising, and were discharged following a review which found “no safeguarding concerns”.

Rotherham HospitalRotherham Hospital
Rotherham Hospital

The child returned a few days later with concerns about their feeding, and a few days after that with an eye infection. They were reviewed and discharged again with no concerns raised.

Then on 8 October 2019, the child attended UECC with a suspected fractured arm. A review was carried out and the child had suffered non-accidental injuries to both legs, an arm and ribs.

A second child attended UECC on 25 December 2019 where they reported as being unwell, having a mouth injury and having breathing difficulties. The child was reviewed, no safeguarding concerns were reported so discharged, despite the mouth injury being recorded as a potential non-accidental injury.

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The second child returned to the CAU later the same day, they had some unexplained bruising on their left arm and shoulder and redness to their right eye. A body map identified nine different injuries.

A third child attended the UECC on 23 December 2019 suffering from significant breathing difficulties and bleeding from their nose and mouth. No safeguarding action was taken, and the child was treated for sepsis. The child was discharged on 26 December 2019, with no explanation for the bleeding.

On 29 January 2020 child 3 attended the CAU following a referral from the GP for breathing difficulties. Following an assessment, no safeguarding concerns were identified. They returned to the UECC a few days later following another GP referral. Due to concerns, it was agreed a child protection medical was required. This identified that child 3 had several non-accidental injuries.

Child 4 attended the UECC on 20 January 2019 with a mouth injury. Staff did not consider it was a non-accidental injury or that there were any safeguarding concerns and so they were discharged. They then attended hospital again on 14 February 2019 and multiple fractures were identified.

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The CQC say that the trust “did not have effective reporting systems and processes,” and “failed in ensuring all staff had relevant training which impacted on the poor care these young children received.”

“The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust did not take all reasonable steps to ensure that safe care and treatment was provided, resulting in four young children being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm, and the exposure of harm to other patients at Rotherham General Hospital.”

Dr Richard Jenkins, chief executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, I unreservedly apologise for the deficiencies in how the Trust safeguarded children from the risk of harm in 2019 and early 2020.

The court focussed on failures in our policies, training and oversight of safeguarding and we fully accept the findings of the court. It’s important to note that the court was clear that the failings were not the result of actions of clinical staff and that no child came to harm as a result of the failings.

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Helen Dobson, chief nurse said: “Since 2019, the Trust has made extensive changes to our children’s safeguarding processes. Robust action has been taken to improve policies, training and oversight, with the introduction of a range of initiatives including safeguarding huddles, closer partnership working within our teams and with Rotherham partners.

In order to assure ourselves and others, we recently invited NHS England to independently review our children’s safeguarding arrangements and, while we await the written report, the verbal feedback from the reviewing team was positive.”