Malfunctions at private hospital where three people died, report says

A mother whose son was among three people who died at a private hospital for people with learning disabilities said his death was a “scandal” as a report highlighted a series of malfunctions.

Ben King, 32, with Down syndrome, died last year at Cawston Park Hospital near Aylsham, Norfolk, after cardiac arrest.

Report author Margaret Flynn said Mr King gained weight in Cawston Park, exacerbating his sleep problems, and the day before his death his mother begged clinicians to provide him with an ambulance.

No ambulance was dispatched and CCTV footage shared with his investigation shows he was subjected to brutal handling and slapped in the face, Ms Flynn said in a virtual press conference.

The hospital closed earlier this year.

Mr King’s mother, Gina Egmore, said his death was a “scandal”, adding: “If you mistreat an animal you are put in jail.

“But people mistreated my son and they are still free.”

An independent report into the deaths of Mr King, Nicholas Briant, 33, and Joanna Bailey, 36, all of whom died in Cawston Park, said their relatives described “indifferent and harmful hospital practices”.

Joanna Bailey (Family / AP)

“Unless this hospital and similar units stop receiving public money, such deadly results will persist,” the report said.

He added that “not much has changed” since the abuse scandal at the former private hospital at Winterbourne View near Bristol, which was exposed in an undercover BBC Panorama documentary in 2011.

The Cawston Park death report made 13 recommendations to a range of agencies, including the Law Commission, suggesting a review of the law regarding private companies caring for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

“Given the clear public interest in ensuring the welfare and safety of patients, and the public sponsorship involved, the Law Commission may wish to consider whether corporate liability should be based on corporate conduct, in addition to that of individuals, for example, ”the report states.

Margaret Flynn, who was commissioned by the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board (NSAB) to write the report, said the report highlighted “failures in governance, commissioning, oversight, planning for individuals and professional practice “.

She said the three deceased “all had aspirations”.

“They wanted to be close to their family, to have friends and jobs or things to do every day,” she said.

“Their lives at Cawston Park Hospital were characterized by unhealthy lifestyles of long-term under-occupation and were not shaped by their goals or interests.

“The plight of their parents sets an agenda that cannot be ignored. “

An investigation into Mr King’s death learned that he had been allowed to gain weight, that there had not been a diagnosis of obesity hypoventilation respiratory syndrome and that insufficient attention had been paid to it. use of the sedative promethazine.

Ben King (Family / AP)
Ben King (Family / AP)

His investigation revealed that he had a history of ingesting objects.

Ms Bailey, who also had learning disabilities, died in hospital in 2018.

The charity Inquest said she died of sudden and unexpected death from epilepsy and was not checked for two hours despite having 30-minute checks in her care plan.

Cawston Park was subject to special measures by the Care Quality Commission in 2019 and was closed by its owners, the Jeesal Group, earlier this year, the NSAB said.

Joan Maughan, who commissioned the report as chair of the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “This is not the first such tragedy and, unless things change dramatically, it will not be the last.

“There will always be times when some people with learning disabilities and / or autism will need specialized support for their very complex needs.

“This requires a determined and solid commitment from all health, social protection, housing and other agencies, at national and local levels, to develop tailor-made services tailored to the individual, services that guarantee safety, respect, care of their physical and mental health well-being, stimulating activities and plans for meaningful life in the future.

A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: ‘The circumstances surrounding Joanna’s death have been fully investigated and a case has been brought to the Crown Prosecution Service against several staff for the offense of ‘a social worker willfully neglecting an individual.

“However, due to insufficient evidence regarding the time of Joanna’s death, it was not possible to proceed with the case as it could not be established whether Joanna was still alive when the staff did. not provided CPR.

“The investigation into Ben’s treatment is ongoing and a number of investigations have been carried out in an attempt to locate the suspect wanted by the police.”


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