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Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): I would like to draw to the attention of the House a situation that should never arise in a civilised society. I refer to a catalogue of events in a private nursing home, Holly House, in Fleur-de-Lis in Caerphilly county borough. Holly House is a 35-bed purpose-built nursing home registered to Puretruce Healthcare Ltd. It is owned by Dr. Das, who owns a number of homes across south Wales but who, unfortunately, does not have a good reputation. The home is registered for dementia care.
My concern about Holly House began early last year, when I heard rumours in the constituency about what was happening at the care home. However, my concerns became more real when I received an e-mail from the daughter of one of my constituents whose father had stayed at the home. She explained to me that, on one occasion, the family had visited her father only to find him in the car park of the house, wandering by himself. That was in a supposedly secure home. On another occasion, she informed me that she went to see her father and he was nowhere to be found. Eventually, he was discovered asleep in a laundry cupboard. Even more worryingly, she told me that, such was the low level of care at the home, that, on one occasion, her father had, in her words,
I then discovered to my horror that these incidents were not isolated. In August 2004, Caerphilly county borough council prepared a report for a multi-agency meeting that set out the range and extent of the complaints and concerns of all the agencies involved. The report stated that on 26 September 2003 a resident suffering from diabetes was taken into hospital as an emergency. The hospital reported concerns about the physical state of the resident when that person was admitted to hospital. That individual died on 11 December. There was a subsequent police investigation, but it resulted in no criminal proceedings being taken. Caerphilly local health board later investigated further but was unable to take further action.
The report indicated that, on 30 October 2003, a resident placed in the home by Rhondda Cynon Taf borough council was seen by an inspector from the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales with bruising to her face. That individual had had a number of falls. Subsequent investigation found that the resident was prone to falls but the home had not undertaken a proper risk assessment, nor was a documented care plan appropriately drawn up.
On 19 November 2003, it was recorded that there had been an anonymous call from a member of staff at Holly House reporting that another staff member physically restrained and struck a resident. That resulted in the suspension of the staff member and a police investigation. No action was taken because the complainant refused to provide a witness statement and a further witness retracted a verbal statement. The patient subsequently died but there was no evidence of a suspicious death.
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The same report stated that, on 16 December 2003, concerns were expressed by Caerphilly district miners hospital following the admission of a resident suffering from hypothermia. The resident returned to the home when a nurse assessor and care manager assessed that appropriate care could be provided by the home. Finally, I refer to an incident on 11 May 2004, when a patient was found on the floor of a lounge during an unannounced inspection by the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales. There was no risk assessment in place for that individual, who was admitted to hospital for a proper assessment.
The examples that I have quoted, sadly, are just some of many examples that could have been cited. At the same meeting, an inspector from the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales reported that numerous notices had been issued against the care home over a long period, but 90 per cent. of those notices had not been satisfactorily addressed by the home's owners.
As a result of all those concerns, on 2 August last year, the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales decided to cancel the registration of the homein other words, to call for its closure. The agencies involved formally agreed that the evidence was such that patients at the home were subjected to institutional abuse. However, in line with the law, despite the withdrawal of the registration and the designation of institutional abuse at the home, it did not close. Instead, Dr. Das appealed against the decision. Then, incredibly, in the face of overwhelming professional evidence, the Care Standards Tribunal upheld the appeal of Dr. Das by the "smallest of margins". Dr. Das was to be given yet another chance and Holly House was to remain open.
I understand that the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales is asking for the Care Standards Tribunal to reconsider the case. I hope that common sense will prevail and the home will close, or at least have a different owner.
How is it that the tribunal came to its decision? The short answer is that Dr. Das is very good at playing the system. He wilfully allows care standards to be broken and then, at the last moment, to prevent action from being taken against him, he introduces the smallest possible changes to allow him to continue. When the spotlight is off him, the situation again deteriorates. That is what happened in this case.
Between the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales issuing the cancellation of registration and the tribunal hearing, Dr. Das introduced a small number of changes at Holly House that enabled him to scrape through the tribunal hearing and continue in business. There can be little doubt that, unless action is taken, it is only a matter of time before conditions again worsen.
The situation is unacceptable. It highlights a number of weaknesses in the regulations which govern the way in which the Care Standards Tribunal operates. I would like the Government to consider a number of changes in the regulations that cover England and Wales. First, a tribunal should be obliged to examine the full background to a case, rather than simply the events immediately preceding the withdrawal of a licence. If that had happened in this case, the tribunal could have seen that Dr. Das has a long history of sharp practice and duplicity in this and other care homes. Moreover, it is likely that the failure to comply with the statutory
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regulations applies not only in this home, but in its predecessor in Bedwellty. That nursing home was replaced by this one in 2001. It is also worth noting that, since its formation under the Care Standards Act 2000, the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales has taken action of this kind against only five care homes in Wales. It does not take this action lightly. Two of those five care homes have been owned by Dr. Das. That is the first area in which the Government need to give careful consideration to the relevant regulations.
Secondly, the regulations should be changed so that a tribunal considers only what has happened prior to the cancellation of registration, not what the appellant has done in the run-up to the appeal. The determination should be based on whether the CSIW acted correctly, not on whether the so-called improvements are sufficient to make the situation better in future. Importantly, when a registration is cancelled, it should come into immediate effect. It is wrong that someone can continue to operate a care home after all the professional agencies have concluded that there has been institutional abuse there. The home should have been closed immediately and then the appeal could have taken place.
I welcome the announcement in the Queen's Speech of a Bill to create a commissioner for older people in Wales. I am glad that part of his or her brief will be to review the adequacy and effectiveness of laws and regulations as they relate to older people in Wales. That is a huge step forward. Will the Government also consider Care Standards Tribunal regulations for England and Wales and liaise with the National Assembly on this issue as appropriate?
The owner of this care home has a long record of running care homes in an unacceptable way. The case of Holly House is a total disgrace. Some of the most vulnerable and frail people in our society have been subjected to a truly appalling degree of abuse and lack of care. That nursing home should be closed, and the elderly people should be looked after elsewhere with the care and compassion that they deserve. We must also ensure that what happened at Holly House never happens again.
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