Basildon Hospital disbanded an entire ward of nurses amid allegations of unaccepatable behaviour by the manager.
Abiola Apara, 58, was sacked after a string of concerns were raised over her management of the hospital’s Lionel Cosins elderly people’s ward.
She faces a Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing today over six misconduct charges in connection with her management.
Apara was initially suspended following complaints from staff and patients in spring 2007.
Then, in September 2007, the entire ward was re-staffed.
The hospital has refused to release details of its probe or comment on any irregular activities, but a source confirmed the investigation into Apara had looked into her recruitment of nurses.
The concerns came to light after Eileen Curry made an official complaint about conditions on the ward.
Mrs Curry, 66, of Weathersfield Way, Wickford, complained following the death of her mother Catherine Talbot, 89.
She was admitted to the hospital in April 2007 with shingles, and died the following month from blood poisoning caused by an infection she received in hospital.
Mrs Talbot also caught superbug Clostridium Difficile while in the hospital.
Mrs Curry told the Echo: “I was shocked when the hospital explained to me why conditions on the ward were so bad, partly because of the manager’s involvement in recruitment.
“My mother was partially-sighted and deaf. She would have struggled to hear anyway, but the strong accents made it even harder for her to know what was happening. Many of the nurses failed to have any empathy with the patients, and were also rough with my mother.
“It is nearly four years since my mother died, and the tribunal is only just happening.”
Minutes of a November 2009 hospital meeting between Mrs Curry and hospital officials stated: “The ward manager had been suspended from duty due to unacceptable activities on the ward and her general lack of leadership. The investigation resulted in the dismissal of the ward manager and the nursing team being disbanded.”
Alan Whittle, hospital chief executive, wrote to Mrs Curry about her original complaint and stressed staff should look after patients regardless of any cultural differences.
He confirmed the ward had been put under new management in September 2007 and there had been “substantial changes” to staff. Staff under Apara were either moved to other wards or left the hospital.
A hospital spokeswoman said Apara has been dismissed and referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. She added: “We are not able to say anything specifically about this ahead of the hearing, as it could prejudice the case and we do not discuss internal staff matters.
“Naturally no prospective employee is permitted to join our ranks without the appropriate qualifications, documentation or references.”
The Echo contacted Apara at her home in Shepeshall, Basildon, but she said she would not comment before the hearing
The only way I will get an answer is by a public inquiry
EILEEN Curry believes there should be a public inquiry into conditions at Basildon Hospital in light of her mother’s treatment and following the recent spate of scandals.
She also wants chief executive Alan Whittle to resign.
She said: “I have been trying to get answers since my mum died and it has just taken so long.
“I was told the ward manager’s tribunal was going to be in February 2010, but they never set a date until now. I really think they have been trying to sweep what happened under the carpet.
“I will not be satisfied until everything about my mother’s care and this situation, which was allowed to take place on the ward, is out in the open.“ She referred to previous incidents at the hospital, including its high mortality rates, filthy conditions found by inspectors and more outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.
She said: “There needs to be a public inquiry into the hospital like they had for Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool following the scandals there.”
Mrs Curry submitted a nine-page complaint letter detailing the deterioration in her mother’s health when a pressure sore turned septic after she was admitted to the hospital on April 19, 2007.
This was after Apara had been suspended, but Mrs Curry said the care of her mother by the nurses she had helped recruit was “atrocious”.
Mrs Curry believes problems with her mother understanding the nurses and a lack of empathy for her deafness worsened matters.
They also seemed oblivious to her arthritis and the fact she could not walk, she added.
Mrs Talbot did not get an electric inflatable bed to help her cope with pressure sores on her bottom until April 22.
In her complaint, Mrs Curry wrote: “She arrived at hospital with her skin intact and within three days had a pressure sore.
“(It) was getting bigger, not better. She continued to moan that some of the nurses were being rough.
“I was feeling staff were getting fed up with me asking for sheets to be changed. Her sore was getting worse.”
Mrs Curry said the sore began to leak a glue-like discharge, and grew much larger.
Among the other complaints were: Mrs Talbot receiving a mouth infection after being given pills she could not swallow, and catching Clostridium Difficile after being left on a commode.
A blocked catheter also left Mrs Talbot in agony.
By May 19, infection was in her mother’s bloodstream. She died alone in the early hours of May 28, after Mrs Curry was told by the night nurse not to stay.
Mrs Curry’s complaint, sent in June 2008 before she was aware of allegations over Apara, added: “I feel my mother and I were let down by those who should have been caring for her.
“I have grave concerns about staff on Lionel Cosins ward.
“It appeared there was a shortage, and this was being supplemented with agency nurses or staff doing extra shifts or covering more than one job. Many of the nurses did not seem to understand the needs of older people or know what was wrong with those they were caring for.”