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Stafford Hospital HCA 'called patient an 'animal'


A veteran nurse broke down in tears while telling a tribunal how she saw a colleague at Stafford General Hospital pulling a dementia patient around by his pyjamas with his genitals exposed and then called him an “animal”.

Healthcare assistant Bonka Kostova first pushed the 73-year-old man into the bathroom and on to the toilet before pulling him out by his pyjama collar and shouting at him, the NMC heard.

Staff nurse Jane Wilkinson then broke down in tears as she described Kostova shouting: “I hate him, I really hate him.

“He is like an animal. I can’t bear working with him.”

Mrs Wilkinson, who has been a nurse at the hospital since 1985, 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.

However, on this occasion Kostova, who had qualified as a midwife in her home country, was “losing it”, Mrs Wilkinson said.

“She just seemed to be out of control with what she was saying.

“I have been a nurse for a long time and I have never witnessed anybody saying anything like that at all and she did appear to be almost losing it really.”

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 July 22, 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.

The hearing comes after a damning report into failings at the hospital, which found “appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of patients”.

The NMC panel is deliberating the facts of the case. An overall verdict is expected Wednesday or Thursday, a spokeswoman said.

Kostova was suspended after the incident and has not worked at the hospital since, Mid Staffs 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.”






Readers' comments (4)

  • i didn't know that the nmc dealt with HCA's.

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  • Don't think they normally do, and doesn't appear to have done so at the time when the trust dealt with it. But in light of Francis report, about HCA training/regulation, NMC has to be seen to do something. I'd assume it would scupper any chances of her being registered here as a midwife.
    Not enough information, is it a one off?, why left in charge?, was it systemic?
    The patient was '80% aggressive', was this because of the kidney stones, the medical treatment, his normal attitude or abuse received/dished out. Poor patient was probably in agony + distressed.

    Would we snap as staff or a patient, when pushed over the edge, due to drip drip effects of poor conditions, treatment, morale and not listened to.
    It's pretty tough even with training to remain calm, collected + professional. But training + support is sadly lacking for staff to cope properly.
    There should be zero tolerance of any abuse to patients AND staff. There should be mechanisms (including environmental) in place to help prevent, reduce + de-escalate conflict situations, and afterwards appropriate redress, training and support.

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  • I read in the media that this person was actually a trained midwife back in their native country so assume this is the reaon the NMC was involved.

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  • Anonymous | 14-Feb-2013 12:49 pm

    from my understanding of what I read in the press she was a midwife and one can assume she was waiting for recognition of her qualifications in the UK and had taken a post as HCA in the meantime. She was reported to have said she was satisfied with her position and preferred to remain in this post.

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