THE case against Dudley's hospital trust, which is facing prosecution after the deaths of two patients, has been adjourned until July.

Lawyers acting for the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which is charged with two breaches of the 2008 Health and Social Care Act, did not enter any plea during a 30-minute hearing at the town’s magistrates’ court today (Wednesday April 7).

The trust is being prosecuted after an investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into the deaths of two patients.

The regulator said the allegations relate to the healthcare provider's responsibility to ensure people receive safe care and treatment.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the CQC said it had brought the prosecution following two specific incidents in which patients died after being allegedly exposed to “significant risk of avoidable harm” at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley.

An initial administrative hearing in the case was held before District Judge Graham Wilkinson, who said the trust would be required to enter its pleas to the charges at a further hearing on July 2.

During the hearing, counsel for the CQC, Ian Bridge, said the charges related to clinical care given to 33-year-old Natalie Billingham before her death, and to Kaysie-Jane Robinson, who was aged 14 when she died.

He told the court both patients had been treated for sepsis and he added: “The families (of the patients) are aware of today’s hearing but, anticipating that it would be administrative, we have not arranged for them to attend."

A spokesman for the Dudley Group said of the case: "It would be inappropriate for the trust to comment while court proceedings are active.

"We do, however, want to reassure our patients and the public that the hospital provides a safe and compassionate environment for their care and that we continue to build upon the service improvements we have made since these two cases in 2018."