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First corporate manslaughter prosecution of a Care Home and an NHS Trust

Three care home bosses face charges of gross negligence manslaughter following the death of an 86 year old woman just days after she left a Nottingham…

Three care home bosses face charges of gross negligence manslaughter following the death of an 86 year old woman just days after she left a Nottingham care home. However the CPS announced in April 2015 that the care home company, Sherwood Rise Ltd, also faces a charge of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCHA). This is the first such prosecution of a care home in England and Wales since the CMCHA came into force in 2008.

The purpose of the CMCHA was to provide a means of accountability for very serious management failings in health and safety across an organisation, resulting in someone’s death. In this case it is alleged that there was a failure to provide adequate food and drink to the deceased, and a failure to check that she was taking fluids.

An organisation is guilty of an offence under section 1 of the CMCHA if the way in which its activities are managed or organized:

  • Cause a person's death; and
  • Amount to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.

Section 18 states that an individual cannot be indicted for aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of this offence.  However an individual may still be prosecuted for common law gross negligence manslaughter, as the three care home managers are in this case. It is not known whether the CQC initially referred the matter to the police or the extent of the CQC’s involvement.

It has also very recently been reported that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has been charged with corporate manslaughter, again the first time an NHS trust has been charged with the offence since its introduction in 2008. The prosecution relates to the death of a young mother (aged 30) after giving birth to her son by emergency caesarean section in October 2012. Two doctors, both anaesthetists, also face individual prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter. The case has recently been committed for trial to Maidstone Crown Court with a plea and case management hearing listed for 22 May.