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Lothian Health Board Fined Over Death of Pensioner

Lothian Health Board has been fined £40,000 following the death of a pensioner after she was struck by one of its vans as she crossed a clearly marked pedestrian route into Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.

Seventy-seven-year-old Ellen Cornwall was on her way to visit her husband in the hospital when she was struck by the reversing van.

The incident was jointly investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Police and a prosecution brought against the health board for serious safety failings.

The accident occurred on a pedestrian walkway that led diagonally across an access road to the entrance of the outpatients department, which is heavily used by staff, patients and visitors.

Car parking issues on the site, which had been ongoing for some years, meant that delivery vehicles often reversed down the access road as they were unable to turn at the bottom due to other parked vehicles.

The joint investigation found that there were no risk assessments in relation to the access road leading to the kitchen service area, any of the hospital’s delivery areas or in respect of any traffic management issues within the site. The problems had been highlighted to management on a number of occasions, including a previous incident where someone was knocked over, but no changes were implemented.

In addition, there were no warning signs to inform drivers or pedestrians of the risks and no security barriers to control access to the area.

“Even a cursory examination of the site quickly revealed shortcomings, and these should have been readily apparent to the extensive management team involved,” commented HSE inspector David Stephen.

“Had a risk assessment been carried out, it would have identified the underlying problems in making deliveries and potential areas of improvement to avoid or reduce the risks,” he added. “But despite concerns being raised, no action was taken.

“The failure by Lothian Health Board to provide a safe pedestrian route for patients, staff and members of the public into one of the main entrances of the hospital resulted in the tragic and needless death of Mrs Cornwall,” he concluded.

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