Hospital workers jailed for abusing female patients on Whipps Cross geriatric ward
Judge Timothy Lamb QC said women's actions had 'damaged patient trust' in the NHS
Friday 23 August 2013
Two healthcare assistants who abused elderly female patients on the geriatric ward of an under-fire hospital were jailed today.
Akousa Sakyiwaa, 38, was convicted of four counts of ill-treatment and neglect of patients on Beech Ward at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, between February and April last year.
Sharmila Gunda, 36, was found guilty of one count of neglect and one count of assault by beating an elderly patient in her care following a trial in June.
Sakyiwaa, of Leytonstone, was jailed for 12 months and Gunda, of Ilford, given a five-month prison sentence at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Fellow healthcare assistant Annette Jackson, 33, of Hounslow, west London, was given a two-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work after being convicted of one count of ill-treatment or neglect.
The three women were charged following a Metropolitan Police inquiry into the hospital after a student nurse acted as a whistleblower.
Delivering his sentence, Judge Timothy Lamb QC said the women's actions had "damaged patient trust" in the NHS.
Diabetic engineer died after doctors left him festering with gangrene on hospital bed that was buzzing with flies and stank of rotting flesh
No senior staff reviewed father Ian Shaffer's foot infection for four days
61-year-old was finally taken for surgery nine days later in Romford, Essex
The next day he started wheezing but doctor 'missed signs of heart disease'
Inquest heard he died of a heart attack after his condition deteriorated
Daughter: 'Dad was festering, rife with infection and producing a foul smell'
Hospital trust was placed in special measures in December last year
By Dan Bloom
PUBLISHED: 19:52, 16 February 2014 | UPDATED: 19:52, 16 February 2014
Death: Ian Shaffer, 61, lay with flies buzzing around his feet as they stank of rotting flesh
A diabetic father died of a heart attack after hospital staff left him festering with stinking gangrene for more than a week, an inquest heard.
A porter joked with maintenance engineer Ian Shaffer, 61, that he had flies buzzing round his feet, which stank of rotting flesh, and his sheets were left unchanged while he waited for an infected foot ulcer to be treated.
His daughter told an inquest it took nine days for two NHS hospitals to finally operate on her father after he repeatedly whispered 'death, death' to relatives and told his wife Bernice he 'felt like he was in hell'.
A day after the surgery on his foot he started wheezing and died of a heart attack.
Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard Mr Shaffer was admitted to King George Hospital in Ilford, east London, on February 7, 2012 to be treated for a foot ulcer.
He was given antibiotics and left in the medical assessment unit for six days as his infected ulcer got worse, the hearing was told.
Finally he was seen by a senior registrar who immediately had him transferred to nearby Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, for urgent surgery in the early hours of February 14.
But instead he was given more tests and it took another two days before the operation took place.
Then after his gangrenous foot was cleaned doctors missed the symptoms of heart disease, the inquest heard.
In a statement read to the inquest, his daughter Nicole Harper said the family had endured two years of 'heartache and pain' waiting to find out what had happened to their 'loving, caring and well-humoured' father, husband and best friend.
She added: 'In his time of need when he was vulnerable, at the total mercy of the doctors and nurses, we felt he had no one looking after his welfare.
'It was clear there was only a few people who recognised the seriousness of dad's case.
'Dad was left festering, he was rife with infection and producing a foul smell from gangrene.'
Gangrene: No senior staff checked on Mr Shaffer at King George Hospital in Ilford, pictured, for four days
The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, was put into special measures in December last year after the national NHS said its leaders needed more help.
Constituency MP Mike Gapes told Parliament last month: 'The morale of the staff in the two hospitals remains remarkably high, but they are to some extent lions led by donkeys.
'They are suffering from years, perhaps decades, of problems in the health service in north-east London.
'I have been an MP for 21 years and have seen a succession of chief executives and significant reorganisations, and yet the fundamental problem is that the trust has a deficit of £100 million... and a massive catchment area of between 700,000 and 800,000 people.
'The fundamental issues are not being solved by whatever reorganisation is happening.'
The inquest heard there was a series of 'missed opportunities' in Mr Shaffer's care.
He became unwell with a wheeze under his operation, but a junior doctor failed to recognise the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, the inquest heard.
Instead he prescribed nebulisers to help with his breathing, with the intention of returning to check on Mr Shaffer later.
On the day he died his daughter visited him and said he was a 'completely different person'.
'He was confused and murmuring - we had never seen him like that before, it was scary,' she said.
'Mum went to see him and she had to step out. He was confused and he was saying "death, death." He just felt terrible. He said to mum that he felt like he was in hell.'
Ms Harper told the court that she saw her father, who also suffered from kidney failure, being given two doses of insulin about 20 minutes apart, but found this strange because the second was administered through the hand.
However, Mr Shaffer's blood sugar levels were normal at the time of his death and the nurse responsible for giving him the second injection claims to have done so in the stomach.
Mr Shaffer, from Ilford, Essex, had also started wheezing and his family immediately raised concerns with nurses, but a doctor did not attend until after they had left at about 9.35pm.
His daughter said: 'Shortly after we received a call to say that dad had gone downhill rapidly. When I got to the hospital I was told that dad had passed away and they had attempted to resuscitate him for some time, because he was young.
'They told me they were shocked as this wasn't expected.'
Missed opportunities: Mr Shaffer was moved to Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, but a junior doctor there failed to spot signs that he was suffering from heart disease, the inquest heard
Delivering a narrative verdict, coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said it was impossible to tell if the alleged poor care directly caused Mr Shaffer's death.
She said that when Mr Shaffer arrived at King George's Hospital, the plan was for his case to be taken over by the diabetes team.
She added: 'However, this did not happen. He had no senior medical review at all between 8 February and 13 February 2012.
'After the senior review on 13 February there was an urgent transfer to the vascular surgeons at Queen's hospital.
'For reasons which are unclear, he was not listed for surgery that day.
'There was a passed opportunity when he became unwell with a wheeze - this was not recognised as a sign of cardiovascular disease.
'It is not possible to say if earlier treatment would have prevented his cardiac arrest, later that evening.'
The cause of death was given as acute heart failure due to coronary artery atheroma, contributed to by diabetes, infection and renal failure.
Averil Dongworth has said her three years at the trust behind King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital have been the “most challenging” of her career.
She is retiring as chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) at the end of the month.
It comes just weeks after the shock resignation of trust chairman Sir Peter Dixon.
Ms Dongworth had planned her retirement before the trust was put into special measures following a damning CQC report in December.
The status is imposed by the NHS when trust managers are not considered capable of resolving systematic failings.
The NHS Trust Development Authority has appointed an improvement director to oversee a plan to bring services up to standard and the results of a review of senior management have not yet been announced.
Ms Dongworth said: “I am proud that the Trust has made great strides since the hospital-wide CQC investigation in 2011.
“I believe the trust is now in a much stronger position with a real opportunity to build for the future, so that the people of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge will have healthcare services they can rely on and be proud of.”
She thanked fellow executives, hospital staff and partners for their support.
Interim chairman of BHRUT, Dr Maureen Dalziel, said: “We are extremely grateful for the dedicated leadership and for the huge contribution Averil has made to the trust.”
A trust spokesman said Ms Dongworth had been in the NHS for 40 years and is looking forward to spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her own projects in health and conservation.
The new chief executive, who has not yet been appointed, faces heading one of the busiest and most overcrowded hospitals in the UK as well as taking on the trust’s huge financial problems.
Board papers last month revealed the deficit at the end of December expected to reach between £27million and £33m.
The A&E at King George Hospital, Goodmayes, which has historically performed much better than Queen’s, is due to be shut in 2015 as part of a huge reconfiguration of services at both hospitals.