Hospitals, care homes and community healthcare providers have until March 1 to comply with a safety alert relating to medical beds that were issued following 18 deaths and 54 serious injuries to patients.

National law firm Clarke Willmott LLP medical negligence specialists are drawing attention to the National Patient Safety Alert issued by the Medical and Healthcare Regulations Agency (MHRA) in August last year. The alert gives organisation until March 1 this year to take action.

This followed cases of death and serious injuries to children and adults of small stature using beds that are designed for adults with typical body dimensions. Isabel Harper (pic), clinical negligence solicitor at Clarke Willmott, said: “It is vital that everyone involved in the issue and operation of medical beds takes the action required in the days left before the deadline.

“There were 18 deaths between January 2018 and December 2022 and the impact of those deaths is still being felt by the families concerned. The deaths and serious injuries are being caused by entrapment in the beds.

“The National Patient Safety Alert has a seven-point action demand for organisations. They must update their policies, develop training plans for staff, update risk assessments and implement maintenance and service regimes.

“But the most vital part of the alert calls on them to review any children or adults with atypical anatomy that have been issued with beds to ensure they have a bed that meets the required standard and does not put them at risk. Many children are issued with beds to be used at home with families given little or no warning of the danger.

“Non-compliant beds should be replaced as soon as possible - organisations will struggle to stand up to scrutiny if these actions are not taken. These are preventable deaths and often there are reasonably low-cost bed guards or other pieces of equipment that can prevent them happening.”

Clarke Willmott is acting for a family following the death of a loved one as a result of the inappropriate issue of their bed and mattress and the subsequent Inquest. The case also involves a lack of maintenance and risk assessment of the prescribed equipment.

Full details of the actions to be taken can be found on the Government website MHRA National Patient Alert.