The NHS trust that ran Stafford Hospital has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in relation to four deaths.
Charges were brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against the now defunct Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
There were four allegations of health and safety breaches relating to patients who died between October 2005 and May last year.
The trust remains in place as a legal entity but was dissolved last November.
A new trust began to run the hospital, now called County Hospital, on 1 November 2014.
The HSE said the charges related to the deaths of:
- Patrick Daly, aged 89, on 13 May 2014
- Edith Bourne, aged 83, on 22 July 2013
- Ivy Bunn, aged 90, on 6 November 2008
- Lillian Tucker, aged, 77 on 21 October 2005
The court heard three of the deaths occurred after falls, while another happened after a patient was given penicillin despite hospital staff being told she was allergic to the antibiotic.
Prosecutor Bernard Thorogood told the court three of the charges related to a failure to conduct a proper risk assessment and identify controls to prevent falls.
“Three of the individuals concerned arrived at hospital vulnerable to falls, had falls and suffered injuries from those falls, which are connected then to the loss of life.”
He said poor record-keeping and management problems led to a nursing sister administering penicillin to a patient who rapidly went into a coma and died.
Speaking after the court hearing Tim Rideout, trust special administrator for Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, said: “We have been working with the HSE since their decision to prosecute MSFT.
“I have made a commitment to bringing matters to a conclusion in the best interest of the families concerned.”
The trust will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court.
Stafford Hospital first hit national headlines in March 2010 when a Health Care Commission report, damning of the hospital’s standard of care, was published.
A public inquiry, by Robert Francis QC, was held with the results being published in 2013.
Patrick Daly, 89, was admitted to hospital with diabetes but he died after falling in a shower and fracturing his skull.
Mr Daly’s daughter Una Garratley said: “Myself and my mum left him on the Friday night in really good humour.
“We had been told that he was going to be discharged on the Monday so he was in great spirits.
“And then to be seeing him the next time in a very poorly state was awful.”
His wife Catherine Daly said doctors told her he had walked behind a member of staff into the shower and there had been no risk assessment.
She said: “The doctor told me he had three brain bleeds and he’s got as fractured skull and there’s not much we can do about it.
“But I was with him when he was dying.”
Mr Francis said the failings went right to the top of the health service and he made 290 recommendations, saying “fundamental change” was needed to prevent the public losing confidence.
In April 2014, the trust was fined 200,000 for failing diabetic patient Gillian Astbury. She died at the hospital in April 2007 after not being given insulin.
Victims’ families voiced anger that no-one has been sufficiently punished for their roles.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust took over the running of Stafford Hospital, now named the County Hospital, and Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Read more: www.bbc.com