Published: 13:14, 04 January 2019
| Updated: 13:24, 04 January 2019
An NHS trust has been fined £300,000 after two nurses suffered life-changing injuries when they were repeatedly stabbed by a patient.
The NHS Oxleas Foundation Trust was fined the sum after the two healthcare workers were stabbed by Myha Grant at the Bracton Centre secure unit in Dartford in July 2016.
The trust of Pinewood House, Pinewood Place Dartford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act last year and was sentenced just before Christmas at the Old Bailey.
The court heard how on July 17, 2016, health care assistant, Francis Barrett was preparing toasted sandwiches for the staff and some of the patients in the kitchen on the Burgess Ward of the centre, in Bracton Lane, which is a medium secure forensic unit.
Mr Barrett went to leave the kitchen to speak to a patient, leaving the knives on the work surface.
As he opened the door, which had been locked from the inside, Grant who had been seen nearby, pushed him back into the kitchen, forcing him onto the floor.
Grant then grabbed a kitchen knife from the side and stabbed Mr Barrett multiple times in the chest and stomach.
In his victim impact statement Francis described feeling like a piece of meat being prepared for cooking.
Julius Falomo, a psychiatric nurse, also working on the ward, saw what was happening and shouted for the attack to stop.
The patient then went to attack him out on the corridor, allowing Francis Barrett to lock the kitchen door.
Julius Falomo was then stabbed multiple times.
The court heard the psychiatric nurse had lost a lot of blood but was able to get out of the ward and receive emergency first aid.
Grant, of Ellison Road, Streatham, south London, then went to his room and collected a lighter and some belongings and came back out to the communal area and set a small fire.
Armed police attended and arrested him and both employees were treated for multiple stab wounds and were airlifted to Kings Hospital, where they received blood transfusions and surgery to repair the damage caused by the attack.
Francis Barrett was found to have suffered several stab wounds to his arms, abdomen and chest, causing serious internal damage which he needed several operations to repair.
He remained in hospital until July 26, that year and was able to return to work on a phased return.
Julius Falomo, who later got an award for his bravery during the attack, was stabbed around 17 times.
He also received emergency surgery to repair internal damage caused by the stab wounds and remained in hospital until July 23, 2016.
He was unable to return to work until March 2017, and he has since had several periods off work due to his injuries.
Both nurses still suffer pain, medical problems and psychological damage from the attacks.
Two other members of staff who, for their own safety, had to hide on the ward and witness the attacks on their colleagues, have suffered both emotional and psychological damage.
Both described in their victim impact statements of feeling helpless because they feared they would be next to be attacked.
Both took time off work and have received counselling from the trust.
Grant, who is a 31-year-old paranoid schizophrenic was sentenced over the attacked in February last year, and is to be kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act but if his condition improves he will have to serve a 16-year jail sentence and be on licence for a further three years under an extended sentence.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found although the Bracton Centre routinely received high-risk patients, at the time of this incident there was no patient specific risk assessment identifying the risks posed by a patient and the measures required to control those risks prior to admission to the ward.
The investigation also found the use of knives on an acute ward was fundamentally unsafe.
Staff were entering and exiting the kitchen area several times whilst knives were in use and there were no instructions or control measures in place regarding kitchen knives.
Following the incident all knives were removed from acute wards.
The trust was also ordered to pay costs of £28,000.
HSE inspector Joanne Williams said: "This incident has had a profound impact not only on the two nurses who nearly died because of their injuries, but also their colleagues who witnessed the attacks.
These NHS workers dedicated themselves to a public duty that came with daily challenges and the trust had a responsibility to keep them safe.
“The treatment of patients in medium secure psychiatric units involves an inherent risk of violence and aggression.
"The needs of patients can be complex. However, the trust nevertheless had a duty to ensure the safety of its staff and its patients so far as was reasonably practicable.
“In this case there were relatively straightforward steps that could have been taken prior to the incident to prevent it happening.
"These included carrying out a patient specific risk assessment prior to admission to the ward; the removal of knives from acute admission wards, including Burgess Ward where patients do not routinely require occupational therapy; and proper training in search techniques.
“The risk of violence posed by patients was entirely foreseeable.
"Had these steps been taken Francis Barrett and Julius Falomo would not have suffered the serious injuries that they did.”