Powys Local Health Board fined for artist’s death

Powys Local Health Board (LHB) has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs in excess of £46,000 following the death of Sylvan Money, a 26-year-old artist who committed suicide at Bronllys hospital near Brecon in 2004.

The fine was made at Merthyr Crown Court on Friday following a hearing at Llandrindod Magistrates’ Court on August 25th at which the LHB admitted there were “ligature points” in the psychiatric unit when Sylvan, who had chronic depression at the time of her death, was on suicide watch.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution against the LHB under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. At the Magistrates Court hearing in August the court heard that ligature points were present in the psychiatric unit despite a risk assessment carried out three years earlier (in 2001) which identified a “high likelihood of injury to patients” from fixtures and fittings on which suicidal patients could potentially hang themselves.

At the Crown Court hearing on Friday HSE principal inspector Colin Mew said: “Powys Local Health Board had a duty to provide a physically safe environment, but failed to do so.

“There was also no system in place to ensure that measures identified to eradicate risks to patients had actually been carried out. There is an even greater duty on employers who care for vulnerable persons as was the case here.”

In a statement, Powys LHB Chief Executive Andrew Cottom, who attended the hearing, said considerable work had been done to address issues identified in the case.

The fine was made at Merthyr Crown Court after magistrates in Llandrindod declined to sentence in August after hearing the maximum fine they could impose was £20,000.