Date Set for Landmark Legal Action in Fight for Inquests into Deaths of Nursing Home Residents

Birmingham Nursing Home inquests


The family of a man, who died just ten days after being admitted to Birmingham's Maypole Nursing Home, will go to the High Court in London on 19 October 2007 to challenge a Coroner's decision not to hold an inquest into their fathers death. If successful the inquests into the deaths of up to 16 other residents of the home may also take place.

Mrs Hazel Bicknell's 77 year old father Leslie Vines, who suffered from both Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease, but otherwise considered physically fit and well when he was transferred to the Maypole Nursing Home in Shirley for full time nursing care on August 27th 2002.

However just 10 days later he died, on 7th September, his cause of death was recorded as bronchial pneumonia and neither a post mortem nor an inquest was held. Mr Vines family will be challenging the decision of Birmingham coroner Aidan Cotter not to hold an inquest into their fathers death through a Judicial Review at the High Court in London.

The Maypole Nursing home was run by two doctors Dr Jamalapuram Hari Gopal and his wife Pratury Samrajya Lakshmi who were both struck off after a GMC hearing in January 2006, which found them guilty of serious professional misconduct and their actions were deemed "inappropriate, irresponsible and inadequate". The private nursing home was forced to shut in March 2003 after an unannounced inspection.

27 patients died at the home during 2002, which was registered to look after only 36 elderly and mentally infirm patients. This compares with 8 deaths during 2001. 80% of the death certificates gave Broncho-Pneumonia as a cause of death, these were written by the two doctors who both financially benefited from the home and were responsible for the well-being of patients.

Jonathan Peacock, a Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, who are bringing the Judicial Review on behalf of Mr Vines family, said:

We are challenging the Coroner's decision not to hold inquests into the deaths at the Maypole Nursing Home. This challenge relates to his refusal to hold an inquest into the death of war veteran Leslie Vines. If successful the challenge will result in the first full public hearing into one of the Maypole deaths. We agree with the coroner that a full Public Inquiry should be held into the Maypole deaths but as no such inquiry is pending, we believe that the individual deaths must be fully investigated by the coroner.

Mr Vines daughter, Hazel Bicknell, said: We are desperate to find out what really happened to my father, especially now we know the doctors who owned and managed the care home have been found guilty of failings.

We hope that a review of the Coroners decision not to hold an inquest into my fathers death will take us one step closer to finding out the truth about how and why he died.