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Families Of Orchid View Residents Frustrated At 'Lack Of Accountability'

Medical Negligence Lawyers Say New Recommendations 'Must Be Delivered'


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Expert lawyers and families whose loved ones endured ‘institutionalised abuse’ at a Sussex care home welcomed the Serious Case Review (SCR) published today (9th June) as a step forward for the care industry but warned that its recommendations must now be delivered to prevent further widespread abuse.

West Sussex Adult Safeguarding Board commissioned the review after an inquest into the deaths of 19 residents at Orchid View Care home in Copthorne but some of the families of those who died say they are frustrated at a continued lack of accountability for the neglect their loved ones suffered. They said it was the ‘worst care home in the country disguised as one of the best’.

Expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell representing seven family members whose loved ones were residents of Orchid View between 2009 and 2011, said that the lasting legacy of the scandal must be wide-scale reform of the private care industry and renewed calls for a Public Inquiry to bring together all organisations and authorities involved and to ensure that the 33 recommendations in the SCR are actually delivered.

The home closed in October 2011 and re-opened under new management in February 2012 as Francis Court but lawyers are concerned that in October last year the new home was also criticised after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection.

Laura Barlow, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the families, said:

Last year 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’.

The five-week inquest which concluded on October 18 2013 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 but was criticised last year in a CQC report for poor staffing levels.

Irwin Mitchell’s medical law team is representing 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.

Ian Jerome, whose uncle Bertram died as a resident at Orchid View, said: “The key question we still have is why Orchid View could appear from the outside to be one of the best care homes in the country, when in fact it was clearly one of the worst. There needs to be a much better system for sharing information about care home standards and about the people who are working in and running them.

“It is really important to us that the recommendations revealed today become reality as soon as possible so that care homes can be improved across the country.”

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: “We welcome the Review’s findings and recommendations but still feel frustrated that there is still a lack of accountability for how severe the problems became before action was taken.

“That is why we support our lawyers in their calls for a Public Inquiry so that all the organisations involved, including previous owners of Southern Cross, can be brought together in one place.”


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’.

The review sets out thoughts on how information can be better shared with the public, how lessons learnt can be shared across the country and how the different organisations involved in care home services can better work together. Mr Georgiou also says that current plans being consulted on by the Government including Duty of Candour, a fit and proper person test and a new offence of wilful neglect should all apply to independent sector businesses and organisations.

The review outlines 33 recommendations for changes both locally and nationally which apply to many different organisations and authorities including care home providers, Department of Health, CQC, emergency services, royal pharmaceutical society, CPS, Nursing and Midwifery Council, NHS England, West Sussex County Council and the West Sussex Adults Safeguarding Board.

The SCR into Orchid View draws up many recommendations to improve the quality of care by service providers as well as improve the sharing of information with the public and other organisations involved such as the emergency services and pharmacies.

The latest turn of events follows other recent 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.

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