Families Of Orchid View Residents Say Serious Case Review Must Bring About Reform Of Care Industry

Medical Law Experts Say Public Inquiry Into Regulation Of Care Industry Remains Vital

06.06.2014

Expert lawyers and families whose loved ones endured ‘institutionalised abuse’ at a Sussex care home say a Serious Case Review (SCR) due to be published next week (9th June) must act as a ‘blueprint for change’ across the care industry to prevent further widespread abuse.

Nick Georgiou, former Director for Adult Services of Hampshire County Council, was commissioned by West Sussex Adult Safeguarding Board to chair the review following an inquest into the deaths of 19 former Orchid View residents last October where a Coroner described a culture of ‘institutionalised abuse’.

West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield concluded five deaths were contributed to by neglect and in all 19 cases examined, the care residents were given was described as ‘suboptimal’.

However, medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell representing seven family members whose loved ones were residents of Orchid View between 2009 and 2011, say whilst they welcome the SCR, a Public Inquiry into the regulation of the care industry as a whole remains vital.

The call follows further high-profile care home exposés including undercover footage of abuse occurring at The Old Deanery Care Home in Essex in April, as well as a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into standards at Francis Court, which re-opened on the same site as Orchid View following its closure, having ‘serious failures’ in staffing levels and resource during an inspection in October 2013.

Irwin Mitchell believes a Public Inquiry must consider Orchid View and other care homes that have been found to provide exceptionally poor care, to identify how it is possible for standards to drop to such a catastrophic level and how to improve regulation to protect the safety of future care home residents.

Laura Barlow, is a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Southampton office representing seven families who lost loved ones following residency at Orchid View.

The five-week inquest which concluded on October 18 last year heard from witnesses who described scenes of patients being underfed and locked in their rooms, unsafe staffing levels and medical records being changed to cover up medication errors at the Copthorne home, which was run by Southern Cross and closed down in October 2011. It reopened as Francis Court under new management in February 2012.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell represent the families of Jean Halfpenny, Jean Leatherbarrow, Doris Fielding, Enid Trodden, Bertram Jerome, Wilfred Gardner and John Holmes. Several of the family members have formed the Orchid View Relatives Action Group in the hope of putting pressure on the Government to enforce change to the regulation of the care industry.

Speaking ahead of the SCR being published, Linzi Collings whose mother Jean Halfpenny died in 2010 after being administered three times her regular dose of the blood thinning drug Warfarin over the course of 17 days at Orchid View, said: “It is nearly eight months since the conclusion of the inquest yet we continue to see a high number of stories in the press about other care homes failing CQC inspections or being investigated for putting residents at risk.

“Given the scale of the problem we agree with our lawyers that a full independent public inquiry should now follow, using evidence from the SCR, to ensure that every care home across the country is performing to a high standard and providing quality care, rather than running as a business with money rather than welfare as its core value.”

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