A tribunal has ruled a former Stafford Hospital healthcare assistant’s fitness to practise was impaired after she was found to have dragged an older dementia patient around by his pyjamas and then called him an animal.
Allegations that Bonka Kostova physically and verbally abused the 73-year-old patient including telling him “you are no longer a human being but an animal” - or words to that effect - were found proven at a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in central London.
The panel said that Ms Kostova’s fitness to practise was “currently impaired by reason of her misconduct” and would read out its final verdict on sanction on Thursday, the NMC said.
The Bulgarian-qualified midwife, working on a night shift as a healthcare support worker at the time, was found to have pushed the man, named only as patient A, into his wheelchair when he stood up, and to have pushed him into a bathroom and onto a toilet.
Kostova then pulled the man out of the toilet using the collar of his pyjama top while his trousers were around his ankles and his genitals were exposed, shouting “I hate you” and “you are no longer a human being but an animal”, or words to that effect, the NMC found.
Staff nurses Jane Wilkinson and Lucian Smith saw the incident and intervened, the hearing was told, taking Kostova into an office and telling her that her behaviour had been “unacceptable” and that they would report the incident.
Ms Wilkinson, who wept describing the incident to the tribunal yesterday, said Kostova was hard-working but could sometimes be abrupt with other members of staff, but that it was to do with her Bulgarian accent and demeanour.
But on this occasion Kostova, known as Bonnie to colleagues, was “losing it”, Mrs Wilkinson said.
The tribunal heard that the patient had been in the hospital just over a month receiving treatment for kidney stones when the incident took place just after 3am on 22 July 2010.
He was said to be aggressive in his speech or manner around 80% of the time, and usually had a one-to-one carer looking after him who would sometimes need the assistance of another if the patient became particularly difficult.
On this occasion, that carer went for a break, leaving Kostova in charge.
Kostova, who was not present for the hearing, had received general training in looking after vulnerable adults, but had not received specific training for dementia patients, ward manager Sharon Matthews told the tribunal.
She was suspended after the incident and has not worked at the hospital since, Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust’s medical director said.
Robert Courteney-Harris said: “This incident was dealt with very swiftly when it happened in 2010. The member of staff was suspended pending our investigation and never returned to work at our trust.”
The public inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, published last week, highlighted the “appalling and unnecessary” suffering of hundreds of patients between 2005 and 2009.
Some were left for hours sitting in their own faeces, food and drink was left out of reach and hygiene was so poor that relatives had to clean toilets themselves.