A former nursing director has been struck off the Nursing and Midwifery Council register after the regulator found she had failed to ensure vulnerable residents at a “deteriorating” care home were safeguarded from potential harm.
Christine Hayes was director of nursing for Caerphilly Teaching Local Health Board between 2003 and 2006 and had responsibility for commissioning NHS-funded care packages from Brithdir Nursing Home.
She continued to allow new residents to move into the home, despite being aware of ongoing concerns about the organisation’s standard of care, following adverse reports by the national inspector and multi-agency investigations over a period of years.
“The protection of vulnerable adults meetings… present a grave picture of a deteriorating situation of care at Brithdir”
The NMC panel noted that the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales identified persistent breaches in standards for staffing, conduct and management of the home, its environment, complaints policies, residents’ quality of life, and planning for individual needs and preferences.
Multiple meetings and investigations about the protection of vulnerable adults – involving the police and social services – also took place from mid 2004 to early 2006, including one in which the home was accused of “institutional abuse”.
A senior nurse from the health board gave evidence at the NMC hearing saying she had reported to Ms Hayes in October 2004 that around a third of the 28 residents would be at risk of investigation due to tissue damage and malnutrition.
The NMC panel said all of this should have alerted Ms Hayes to the risk posed to residents and caused her to question whether to continue commissioning its services.
“By allowing funded nursing placements to continue you failed to ensure an adequate standard of nursing care”
“The protection of vulnerable adults meetings, in the panel’s judgment, present a grave picture of a deteriorating situation of care at Brithdir,” said the NMC panel in its report.
However, the regulator noted that despite this, Ms Hayes jointly signed off a letter that lifted an embargo which had previously restricted new residents from joining the home.
The panel report said: “By allowing the embargo to be lifted conditionally, and subsequently allowing funded nursing placements to continue despite your knowledge of a range of material issues such as the Protection of Vulnerable Adults investigations, you failed to ensure that an adequate standard of nursing care for residents was provided at Brithdir Nursing Home.”
Source: PHOTOPQR/LA DEPECHE DU MIDI
Although the panel noted that Ms Hayes had learnt lessons from her experience, its report said: “The panel considered that the events at Brithdir were a chronicle of a failing home which flagrantly breached standards of care and exposed patients to a risk of harm which contributed to patient deaths.
“Many of these POVA strategy meetings had been convened following referrals by hospital staff after residents of the home had been admitted…The panel concluded that the public interest in your acts and omissions was therefore intensified.”
The NMC said the level of Ms Hayes’ misconduct meant she was not fit to practise and concluded she should be struck off, ending her 40-year career as a registered nurse.
Brithdir Nursing Home closed in 2006 but has now reopened under new management.