Health care giant Bupa was today fined a whopping £3million after a beloved granddad fatally caught Legionnaires’ disease at a £1,000-a-week care home.
Subsidiary Bupa Care Homes BNH was slapped with the hefty penalty at Ipswich Crown Court after admitting ‘significant and serious’ health and safety failings following the death of Kenneth Ibbetson.
The retired businessman had moved into the facility aged 86 just 12 weeks before he caught the deadly disease at Hutton Village Care Home, in Essex, where it was later found records had been falsified, warnings not acted upon and the manager was not trained.
Mr Ibbetson’s family said they were robbed of his twilight years after painstakingly choosing what they thought was the perfect place for him back in 2015. Instead they were forced to watch him die after failures to monitor and flush the water system allowed the deadly bacteria to develop – despite concerns raised in 2012. Today they revealed they have launched a civil case against the multi-national and will fight on for compensation.
Mr Ibbetson’s daughter, 54-year-old Caroline Peters, said: ‘It is almost three years since our father contracted Legionnaires’ disease from his bathroom and Hutton Village nursing home. ‘Today Bupa were finally bought to justice by the excellence of the British legal system. ‘The sentence imposed and the £3million fine will not bring our father back, but with the hard work of everyone involved Bupa are now facing the consequences of its failings. ‘We would like to thank the team that bought the prosecution to its conclusion, ultimately we hope it will prevent another family having to suffer a needless tragedy.’
Judge Emma Peters blasted the firm for its lack of training, oversight, and failure to flush a plumbing system. She slammed Bupa for ‘significant and serious’ failings which meant that Legionnaires’ concerns raised in 2012 were not acted upon for three years. In her lengthy sentencing she highlighted that records were falsified, warnings were not acted on and the home’s manager was not trained. This coupled with a refurbishment meant the disease was able to develop in the hot water system.
Judge Peters also revealed that other care homes suffered from the same oversight problems – but changes have now been made. ‘In March 2015 Kenneth Ibbetson an 86-year-old man from a loving supportive family moved into Hutton Village Care Home run by Bupa Care Homes BNH limited,’ she said. ‘Just 12 weeks later he died of Legionnaire’s disease that resulted in an investigation by the HSE which brought a prosecution against Bupa Care Home to which they pleaded guilty. ‘There is no dispute he caught that disease at Hutton Village likely it came from an aerosol of the disease from his hot tap.
‘They failed in both the duties they owed to the residents of the care home and in particular Mr Ibbetson. ‘In a high-risk environment in the provision of care homes to have systems that don’t check up on untrained managers it’s not on in my view a system that discharges its duty. ‘No one had a grasp of Legionnaires’ risk at Hutton Village and no one understood fully or completely the system.
‘I suspect the level of remorse in the company is real, but this has not been well conveyed by the company.’