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Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution fined after failing to provide safe care at nursing home

13 January 2020
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company
  • Media

The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution has been ordered to pay £50,000 plus legal costs, following an incident at a care home in which a person sustained serious injuries. 

The care provider – which runs Cornwallis Court, Bury St Edmunds – was fined at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court today (10 January 2020), having pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm to a resident of the home. 

Cornwallis Court is a nursing home accommodating older people, including people living with dementia. 

The prosecution was brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

The court heard that Avril McCreeth fell at Cornwallis Court on 10 January 2016 and became stuck against a hot pipe, inflicting significant burns to her back.

A subsequent CQC investigation found the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution – as provider of the service – failed in their duty to implement systems and processes to protect people from hot surfaces, meaning the incident could have been avoided.

Ms McCreeth has since died. Her death was not linked to injuries sustained at Cornwallis Court.  

Jemima Burnage, CQC head of inspection for adult social care, said: “Avril McCreeth and her family had every right to expect safe care. This is a distressing case and our thoughts and sympathies are with her family.

“While we welcome the fact that the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution accepted responsibility in this case, we would always rather not be in the position of having to take action because vulnerable people have been failed by those providing their care.

“The risk of people sustaining serious burns from uncovered pipes is something all care homes should be aware of. We hope this result sends a message to all care home providers that they must always ensure people’s safety and manage risks to their wellbeing. 

“When a care provider has put people in its care at serious risk of harm, we will hold them to account, using our powers to bring prosecutions where appropriate.” 


For media enquiries, contact Jonathan Davies on 07789 876735 or Helen Gildersleeve on 0191 233 3379. Alternatively call the press office on 020 7448 9401 during office hours. 

Please note: the duty press officer is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
13 January 2020

Notes to editors


Regulation 12 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 describes a provider and registered manager's duty to ensure that care or treatment is provided in a safe way. It is one of a series of fundamental standards introduced following the Mid Staffordshire NHS Inquiry led by Sir Robert Francis. 


The 2014 Regulations make it a criminal offence to fail to comply with Regulation 12(1) where the failure to provide safe care or treatment results in avoidable harm to a service user or exposes a service user to a significant risk of exposure to harm. It is a defence for the registered person to establish on the balance of probabilities that they took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to ensure safe care and treatment was provided. The maximum penalty for this offence is an unlimited fine. 


The 2014 Regulations took effect on 1 April 2015 and coincided with a transfer of enforcement responsibility for health and safety incidents in the health and social care sector from the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities to CQC. 


About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.