Two nurses have been jailed for falsifying routine blood glucose tests they should have taken from vulnerable stroke patients.
Rebecca Jones, 31, and Lauro Bertulano, 46, were found to have submitted bogus blood glucose readings instead of carrying out regular tests and recording accurate notes while working on a specialist stroke ward.
“We would wish once again to apologise to those patients and their families”
Health board statement
Ms Jones falsified 51 entries for nine patients and Mr Bertulano made 26 fake readings for six at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend in South Wales.
They should have taken checks at least every two hours on patients with diabetes. The court heard that, at one point, an 82-year-old went 26 hours before having a genuine test.
The judge, Tom Crowther QC, said they had carried out the deception to make their working time easier.
Family members reported seeing the pair drinking tea and looking at their phones when on duty instead of caring for patients.
Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend
Cardiff crown court was told that some elderly patients on the ward tried to tell family members they were being mistreated, but “lacked capacity” to raise the alarm.
Meanwhile, a third nurse, Natalie Jones, 42, made up four readings for two pensioners. All three admitted wilful neglect.
Rebecca Jones was sentenced to eight months in prison and Mr Bertulano to four, while Natalie Jones was given a community order.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which runs the hospital, said it was now bringing human resources proceedings against a further 12 nurses that it had suspended over the matter.
It noted that, while the police investigation was underway, the board was unable to conduct its own full internal inquiry, and was not able to interview nurses involved.
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The moratorium – at the request of police – covered a wider group of nursing staff who had been suspended over the issue, as well as the ones charged with a criminal offence, said the board in a statement.
It said internal HR proceedings were now progressing with 12 of the suspended nurses. The three who pleaded guilty have since resigned.
The board highlighted that, when the board first became aware of the blood glucose monitoring issues in February 2013, it called a multi-agency Protection of Vulnerable Adults meeting.
Following that the board began an internal assurance review, which “assured” it that that the “practice was not widespread”.
A dedicated health board investigation team was also established, including senior nurses and specialist diabetic nurses, to review patient notes. They found “no evidence that any patient had received actual harm”.
“We would wish once again to apologise to those patients and their families for the distress that this inevitably caused,” said the board statement, adding that it was inviting relatives to meet with it in order to discuss any concerns.
The board said: “Checks and audits carried out regularly since then give us firm assurance that poor blood glucose monitoring practices are no longer an issue.
It added: “We are also now able to commission further work to consider what can be learned from these events, and to ensure we have everything in place to avoid it happening again.”