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Mentally ill nurse inquiry call

Penelope Webber
Penelope Webber was convicted of ill-treating and neglecting patients

A judge in Cardiff is demanding an investigation into how a nurse with a history of mental illness was employed to look after patients with dementia.

Penelope Webber has been found guilty of ill-treating two 87-year-old men, and neglecting one, while working at the city's Whitchurch Hospital.

The nurse was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 and later paranoia

Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board said it would finalise its inquiry at the end of the case.

Webber, 52, from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was convicted last month after Cardiff Crown Court heard how she wrestled with one of the elderly mental health patients and knelt on another's chest.

She was due to be sentenced on Thursday but Judge Stephen Hopkins QC adjourned the case for two weeks.

She was totally unfit to conduct herself as a nurse working in a hospital, let alone a psychiatric hospital
Judge Stephen Hopkins QC

He said he was astonished to hear that the nurse had a "not insubstantial history of mental health problems".

She was diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder when she was 19, and later diagnosed as suffering from paranoia.

The judge said that at the time of the offences in February, she was totally unfit to be a nurse in any hospital, let alone a psychiatric hospital.

He said: "How and why was this lady was working as a state registered nurse and as a nurse with special care for dementia sufferers.

"I wonder whether there's going to be an investigation - I think there should be as to how this state of affairs has arisen.

Medication

"She was totally unfit to conduct herself as a nurse working in a hospital, let alone a psychiatric hospital."

Webber was caught when another member of staff heard a commotion coming from the room of one of the 87-year-old patients Peter Sadler at the hospital.

Prosecutor Sue Thomas said: "As he drew back the curtain he saw Webber leaning on top of the patient.

"She had one knee on the bed and one knee on his chest, there was a cream liquid all over his head and broken tablets in his hair.

"Mr Morgan asked what she was doing and Webber said: "He had refused to take his medication"."

Allegations first surfaced in January when another commotion was heard on a ward for which Webber was responsible

We take our responsibilities to our staff and patients very seriously, and place their care and safety at the top of our agenda
Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board

The court was told a second patient, Kenneth Hollyman, was seen with a bleeding lip and skin tears on his elbow.

When asked what had happened to him, Webber replied: "He put up a good wrestle but I was too strong for him."

Webber had worked as a nurse for 20 years but is now suspended.

The local health board later issued a statement saying "The concerns of those involved were picked up under our care of vulnerable adult procedures and we took immediate action to safeguard our patients.

"We take our responsibilities to our staff and patients very seriously, and place their care and safety at the top of our agenda."



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