Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

Birmingham coroner in nursing homes appeal

Leslie Vines
Concerns were raised about Leslie Vines treatment at the nursing home

A coroner has called for an independent investigation unit to be set up to inspect nursing homes without warning after a Birmingham man's death.

Leslie Vines, 77, of Shirley, Solihull, was among 27 residents who died at the former Maypole Nursing Home in 2002.

The inquest jury considering his death returned a verdict of natural causes.

Coroner Aidan Cotter said: "If residents and their families knew there was someone truly independent, it would improve the service enormously."

Mr Cotter told the inquest at Sutton Town Hall: "I will write to the CQC [Care Quality Commission] and to the Independent Monitoring Board to see if there is a way in which they could assist."

Judicial review

Mr Vines died of bronchopneumonia 10 days after being admitted to the Birmingham home.

Maypole Nursing Home closed in March 2003 following an unannounced inspection, which prompted the then National Care Standards Commission to raise "serious concerns" about the care it offered.

A husband and wife GP team who ran the private nursing home, Dr Jamalapuram Hari Gopal and Dr Pratury Samrajya, were struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council in 2006.

Three nurses who worked there were struck off the nursing register in 2008.

The inquest into Mr Vines' death was told that he may have been given a 10mg dose of the sedative Haliperidol.

It also heard concerns over the use of so-called bucket chairs at the nursing home.

However, Mr Cotter said: "There's simply not sufficient causal evidence for gross failure."

He also said there was insufficient evidence that Mr Vines' breathing had been compromised. It was "all too vague, all too insufficient", he said.

'Learnt lesson'

After the inquest, Victoria Blankstone, from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said: "During this inquest, we have publicly heard for the first time, how bucket chairs are used for patients who are immobile, such as after a severe stroke, but their use for mobile patients can amount to restraint.

"Despite being mobile, Mr Vines was placed in a bucket chair."

The inquest, which took place following the agreement of Justice Minister Jack Straw, was held after a judicial review in the High Court into a decision not to have an inquest.

Speaking outside the town hall, Mr Vines' daughter Hazel Bicknell said: "I do pray for the public to question anything they don't believe is right.

"I have learnt a lesson and I will not take people at face value any more."



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