In a case prosecuted by Ashfield District Council at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday 5 November 2018, Alliance Care (Dales Homes) Ltd were ordered to pay a fine of £600,000 and costs totalling £100,000 for failing to ensure the health and safety of residents and employees at Kestrel Lodge care home in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. The Company had previously pleaded guilty to two offences under sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at a hearing on 7 September 2018.
Details of the case first arose when environmental health officers investigated a confirmed Legionella case on 6 November 2012. John Bonser, a 90 year old resident at Kestrel Lodge, died on 15 November 2012 from Legionella Pneumonia contracted in the home. Ashfield District Council brought the case because the Company’s failings had exposed vulnerable residents and staff at the home to very poor standards of care and serious risks to their safety.
Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting for the Council, told that court that John Bonser became a resident at Kestrel Lodge Care Home in August 2012. On 29 October 2012 he was admitted to Kings Mill Hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia due to infection with legionella pneumophila and he died on 15 November 2012. Mr Thorogood told the court that the evidence of expert witnesses was that Mr Bonser acquired the fatal condition as a result of being exposed to high levels of bacteria identified in the water system at Kestrel Lodge. This included in his personal accommodation, and that employees were also at significant risk, many of them having no idea about the risks associated with legionella.
The Company accepted that it failed to ensure the health and safety of residents and employees at Kestrel Lodge, and that its failings were a significant cause of the fatality.
In sentencing HHJ Rafferty QC said that pressures in health and care funding were no excuse for the company failing to discharge its fundamental purpose of keeping residents safe over a significant period of time.
Cllr Jason Zadrozny, Leader of Ashfield District Council says “Today's sentencing is a significant result for Ashfield District Council. We are committed to ensuring that residents of care homes within the district are living in a safe and secure environment. The Council have worked hard to bring this prosecution to court, and will continue to prosecute those that fail to meet legal standards.”