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Concerns Over SCR Leave Lawyers Calling For Public Inquiry Into Orchid View Scandal

‘Care Home Managers Have No Fear’, Says Daughter Of Orchid View Resident


Expert lawyers representing families who lost loved ones after enduring horrific neglect and abuse at Orchid View care home say they have concerns about the independence of the Serious Case Review (SCR) that is being drawn up in the wake of the inquest.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell have written to Nick Georgiou, former Director for Adult Services of Hampshire County Council, who is chairing the review commissioned by West Sussex Adult Safeguarding Board, asking for confirmation of not only specifically what the review will cover, but how it remain impartial towards all those responsible for the failings at the home, when it is being conducted by a former Social Services director.

The concerns have been raised as the specialist Irwin Mitchell team confirmed they will continue to represent seven families in their battle for justice as they pursue civil claims against Southern Cross, the former owner of Orchid View.

Southern Cross operated 752 homes across the UK before it shut down in 2011 and the firm says if Orchid View managers were left unregulated creating such devastating standards for so long, it has serious concerns about the care practices at its other homes.

Following a five-week inquest into 19 deaths that concluded last week (18 October), West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield said Orchid View Care Home had ‘institutionalised abuse from a very early stage’. She concluded five deaths were contributed to by neglect and in all 19 cases the care residents were given was ‘suboptimal’.

The Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell representing the families:

Expert Opinion
Whilst we welcome any review that promises to identify failings and draw up recommendations so that the same mistakes cannot be repeated, we believe the horrific scale of neglect at Orchid View warrants a completely independent inquiry.

“Families deserve information about exactly what the review will cover so they can be certain they get all the answers and accountability they need to come to terms with what happened.

“We expected to receive information setting out the full remit of the review, the timescale for the review being concluded and how it will be made public, but so far this information has not been forthcoming and we have been left with no choice but to formally request it in writing as we do have concerns about far-reaching it will be.

“We have also raised concerns about the impartiality of the review when it is being led by a former Director Of Social Services, which was one of the many organisations the Coroner found let down Orchid View residents. We need confirmation that all authorities will be scrutinised at the same level.”
Ian Christian, Partner

Mr Christian added: “The families who have lost loved ones have waited long enough to see action taken to improve the care industry following their devastating losses and they do not deserve to be kept waiting any longer about what the lasting legacy of the inquest will be, which should be an overhaul of the industry to ensure the same scandal cannot happen again.

“A Public Inquiry would set out a system of guidance by which all private care providers can adopt and ensure their residents are looked after in the appropriate and safe manner and we are not convinced the SCR would be far reaching enough to do this.

“We eagerly await a response from Nick Georgiou, but if any concerns remain following its response with regards to the remit, impartiality and accountability, we will not hesitate to contact MPs requesting a full, independent Public Inquiry that examines the results of the police investigations, CQC investigations and SCR.

Following the inquest it was confirmed that two former Orchid View managers, Sarah O’Mara and Mark Cash, were still employed in the industry by CareUK, which took over running the home that was formerly Orchid View.

They have both now left the organisation but Judith Charatan, whose mum Doris Fielding was hospitalised as a result of the care she received whilst at the home, said she is appalled that they could walk into other jobs after Orchid View shut down without being investigated.

Judith said: “How these people could walk straight into new jobs is beyond me and shows there is absolutely no accountability in the industry, even when the actions of individuals contribute to the deaths of numerous human beings.

“This must change, as until then I can’t see that any improvements will happen because care home managers have nothing to fear.

“Nothing can bring Mum or any of the other former residents back but it will at least give us some peace of mind to know that their deaths were not completely in vain if it brings about a change to the way the industry is run and brings more accountability to prevent the same horrific neglect from happening again.”

Ian Christian from Irwin Mitchell added: “Questions remain about how the regulators of the industry cannot be effective enough to intervene when two former Orchid View managers gained immediate employment after leaving Orchid View.

“The General Medical Council requires NHS and private health professionals to inform employees when they are being investigated and have restrictions on their practice and we believe the CQC needs to implement the same system to ensure negligence cannot be repeated.”

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