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Whipps Cross HCAs found guilty of 'wilful neglect' to be sentenced

Three female healthcare assistants who treated elderly patients in a way that ”simply had no place on any ward” are to be be sentenced.

Akousa Sakyiwaa, Annette Jackson, and Sharmila Gunda were found guilty of ill-treatment or wilful neglect of patients on Beech Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London between February and April last year.

Gunda was also convicted of assault by beating following the trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in June, a court official said.

The three women were charged following a Metropolitan Police inquiry into the hospital after a student nurse acted as a whistleblower.

Sakyiwaa, of Leytonstone, Jackson, of Hounslow; and Gunda, of Ilford, were responsible for looking after elderly female patients with various physical and mental conditions including dementia, prosecutor John McNally said.

”An entitlement to proper care should not be a matter of chance or be given at the whim of the carer. The conduct complained of simply had no place on any ward,” he told the jury.

Barts Health trust, which runs the hospital, apologised to patients following the verdicts and stressed it had a “zero tolerance approach” to any form of neglect or ill-treatment.

In a statement, the trust said: “We apologise unreservedly to the patients of Beech Ward and their families for the indefensible failings in their treatment during their time in our care.

“There can be no place under any circumstances for such behaviour in our trust or in the wider NHS.”

It added that following an internal disciplinary investigation all three women had their contracts of employment terminated.



Readers' comments (23)

  • The student nurse who did the whistle blowing shold be commended. But why did no other staff see what has happeing there?
    Was there no R.N's who could have intervened earlier so patients were not ill treated in the first instance.
    Let's just hope these individuals never again get to work in any type of care setting.

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  • Why do people who obviously don't care work in a caring profession?

    What were the qualified staff doing that they didn't notice the behaviour of these evil women, surely that makes them guilty as well?

    Well done to the student nurse, hoping that the whole sorry episode hasn't affected you too much and that you are able to carry on with your training.

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  • all these disturbing reports in the media about care and nursing - how is it allowed to go so far before it is noticed that such extreme measures have to be taken and who has to foot the bills for these trials and investigations? these don't seem to be isolated cases and it just doesn't make sense but does rather reflected the impoverished life and services in britain in general.

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  • For me, the second worst aspect of this appalling matter is the failure of qualified staff to have acted/reported. Perhaps it's a case of misplaced camerarderie - or sheer terror due to intimidation. As said above, all credit to the student nurse and pray that there is no retribution for him/her.

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  • tinkerbell

    Well done brave student nurse for putting patients well being before your own fear of anything else. Makes me wonder how long the abuse had been ongoing before someone brave enough to speak out showed up.

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  • I echo the praise of the student nurse that brought this to the attention of the right people! in response to the posts about how none of the RGN's responded to this could possibly be explained by the fact that students are often used as "extra hands" so therefore more likely to see the things seen by the HCA's! not an excuse or sticking up for anyone, just a possibility ...... Once again Well done to the student :o)

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  • Have the senior managers, Ward Managers, Matrons been held to account? Are they still in post despite this and the latest CQC report?

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  • tinkerbell | 23-Aug-2013 6:11 pm

    Isn't it a sad state of affairs when we have to be 'brave' to protect patients, when that is the whole point of being a nurse, isn't it?

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  • Wondering if their superior's will be reprimanded?

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  • Again...well done to the student nurse. You will make a very fine RN with your high principles and standards. Its a shame the leaders on Beech Ward did not share your values.
    Next I would like to hear the outcome of the rest of the investigation - i.e. what will happen to the 'leaders' who no doubt turned a blind eye to what was happening under their very noses.
    If I was a relative of one of these patients I would demand this and expect it to be very thorough.

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  • The "management" who created the environment within which this abuse took place should also have been in the dock.

    Whilst not wishing to minimise the crimes committed these individuals are scapegoats of the system.
    Poorly trained and unsupported/unsupervised yet being asked/told to undertake a demanding role for which they were ill equipped.

    Barts the "Trust" responsible for this hospital have recently been issued warnings by the CQC for failing to meet minimal standards.

    The "management" will not be "quaking in their boots " because they know themselves to be untouchable. These despicable people have many more minions they will bully and blame for the "managements" failures.

    Am I the only one who consistently points to the gross failings of NHS management ?

    The cesspit of "NHS management" needs cleaning out and a few jail sentences should be handed down.

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  • Jenny Jones | 25-Aug-2013 7:10 am

    why are you copying other people's comments verbatim from the Telegraph without referencing them?

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  • Anonymous | 25-Aug-2013 7:31 am

    Perhaps the same person made both comments and no copying was involved? I comment on other forums and threads and routinely post the same thing on them all.

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  • Anonymous | 25-Aug-2013 10:42 am

    I considered it might be the same person with different user names but there is evidence this is not the case.

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  • Anonymous | 25-Aug-2013 11:34 am

    Where? Produce the evidence. Otherwise, put a sock in it!

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  • Why oh why do the majority of comments end up in a dog fight. No wonder we have no solidarity.
    Jenny, you are not the only one to blame management, who see themselves as untouchable. Anyone above sister level is manipulated into targets and statistics and have caring obliterated from their brains - that goes for their staff as well as patients. Even ward staff are losing sights of patient needs with tick box exercises, and the ever demanding paperwork. I regularly see staff nurses in tears over the overwhelming expectations of them, and sadly we still live in a culture if you show emotion, then you are thought to be not coping and are inefficient.
    Back to the article and the HCAs should be held to account for their actions. The trained staff, I suspect, are governed by the 'fear factor'. Bravo to the student nurse, and I hope they are not dawn into the' fear' culture in nursing. Being in the NHS for 40+ years, I find that hard to believe.

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  • Jenny Jones | 25-Aug-2013 7:10 am

    Jenny, I heartily agree with you.( And who ever posted in the Telegraph too).

    I think these 3 HCA's are just the tip of the iceberg in this case and there is a lot more which lies below the surface.

    I wonder, though it is just speculation, if the Nurse in Charge didn't say anything critical sooner, because they were being held to ransom by someone or group on the ward or indeed possibly by the next line of management Management as well. I have seen enough of staff ganging up against their Senior Nurse in the past, to know that it can be a big problem. One which would require someone from outside the "alliances" to blow the whistle, a student in this case.

    There are some very unhealthy Nursing teams around, but where is the team building, support and supervision in Nursing?

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  • Well done Student Nurse. You can care for me when I am in need.
    It is great to know we have Nurses who are not scared to speak out. This wonderful student nurse is not alone I am hoping. Come on all you R.N's and students be brave and report any unacceptable treatment to our elders.

    Shame on the R.N who kept quiet.

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  • What an awful, foul situation for those patients and their families. Well done student nurse. Dementia is a horrible thing, perhaps what I feel makes me behave appropriately on the wards is that even though I might have assisted a gentleman into bed a hundred times, been scratched and hit and kicked, I know that this is somebody's father, one day it could be mine. I know that if I am frustrated enough that there is even one iota of a smidgen of a possibility that it begins to affect my tone or ability to do my job kindly and respectfully it is time to step away and ask for help, be honest and confide in my seniors, tell them I'm finding it hard to cope with a particular patient and is there any advice or further training that would help me. There is never an excuse for abuse, ever. Not pressure, staffing levels, poor management or time constraints. If you don't realise your own shortcomings and human imperfections and hold firm principles and moral standards then caring isn't for you. It's not a £6.85 p/h kind of job, it's full time, take your work hime with you, living, breathing, highly skilled work. Until that is recognised I think we're asking for these disgusting occurrences.
    This is just what I think as a HCA please don't take offence, it's my opinion only.
    Thanks, Beccy

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  • I personally like to think that the nurse who should have been noticing what was going on with these 3 evil women, couldn't get away from the computer for long enough to notice.
    Whatever, the person in charge always wears the blame - that's well known in every business. This business is no different. Nurses need to be
    1) out of the office
    2) circulating on the ward
    3) handing over the clerical side of their duties to junior data entry clerks or ward clerks
    Any training they have is wasted on clerical duties

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