By Michele Paduano
CCTV footage which showed hospital workers sleeping in a patient’s bed while he was left lying on the floor is being investigated by an National Health Service (NHS) trust. A leaked email also reported that on the previous night, video showed the same man being “dragged across the floor and manhandled into a chair” by three staff members at Penn Hospital, in Wolverhampton. These incidents are among a number of others being looked into at the Black Country Healthcare Trust.
Confirming an investigation, the trust said safety was its “highest priority”. A Care Quality Commission (CQC) spokesperson confirmed it had been informed by the trust about concerns relating to staff behaviour. West Midlands Police said it received a report on 6 January that a patient had been assaulted at Penn Hospital and confirmed that inquiries were continuing.
An email sent by the Black Country organisation’s deputy chief executive Chris Masikane about the bed footage said: “Another shocking case, I could cry. I do not think I can work for this trust anymore.” The trust’s Director of People, Ashi Williams. informed members of the leadership team the CCTV footage apparently showed the 53 year-old patient left on the floor all night while a member of staff slept in his bed for two hours, used his toilet, prayed in his room and engaged in another inappropriate activity.
Her email said another staff member had then taken over and appeared to sleep in the patient’s bed too. The message said the previous night the seriously ill man had been dragged across the floor and manhandled into a chair by three members of staff.
On 4 January the man, who was the subject of a do not resuscitate order, was taken to New Cross Hospital, in Wolverhampton, where he later died. It is not known if the death was related to the apparent mistreatment.
Ms Williams requested a meeting be arranged for 6 January to discuss managing allegations against people in a position of trust. In the email chain talking about the bed footage, Mr Masikane also wrote: “Another shocking incident and goes back to the issue I have raised about professional conduct, standards and practice. I am more interested as to what we are going to do to address professional standards, conduct and behaviour from frontline staff.”
The footage captured on CCTV from the hospital showed a “distressing incident”, the NHS trust said.
There appeared to be a separate incident where CCTV footage seemed to show a staff member stepping over a patient lying on the floor and taking no notice of the patient.
Sources have also confirmed an allegation of a nurse having a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient – but this is not related to Penn Hospital and was not on trust premises.
The trust said in relation to Mr Masikane’s comments about wanting to leave the trust: “These comments were an immediate reaction to a distressing incident that had happened and was via a private email conversation with a colleague. We are always encouraging our teams to tell us how they feel in response to challenging situations. Ensuring our patients’ safety and confidentiality is our highest priority. Where care falls short of our expectations, we take this very seriously and continuously review how we ensure delivery of the best care.”
The CQC said as well as contact from the trust itself, some employees had contacted it.
“We have been following up with the trust and are in direct contact with the senior team regarding the actions being taken to ensure patient safety,” a spokesperson said. Concerns have also been raised in the trust about the appointment of a new chief executive, which has been on hold pending an internal investigation.
Trust chair Jeremy Vanes wrote to employees in November stating: “We recently undertook a recruitment process to appoint our CEO substantively, and we know that you will all be eager to know the outcome of this. However, we have received some information which has caused us to review our processes and therefore the appointment process has been paused whilst we carry out a review of the process. We hope to do this as quickly as possible and aim to update you all on the outcome in the coming weeks.”
A spokesperson said: “We are currently going through a ratification process around the permanent appointment of the CEO and expect to make an announcement shortly. The appointment was originally paused so we could do an independent review to ensure we had followed the expected recruitment process for an appointment of this nature. The pause was not due to the quality assurance and nursing.”