Three nurses who worked at a notorious Birmingham nursing home, where 27 elderly residents died in just one year, have been struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Kathleen Smith, who ran the Maypole Nursing Home in Kings Heath, and her two colleagues Carol Bushell and Mary Casey, have 28 days to appeal against the NMC’s conduct and competence panel’s ruling - which bans them all from nursing indefinitely.
The GPs who owned the home - Jamalapuram Hari-Gopal and his wife Samrajya Lakshmi - were struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council in January 2006 after they were found guilty of serious professional misconduct.
Smith, Bushell and Casey committed in total 16 counts of misconduct, ranging from giving residents wrong medication, not following care plans - which resulted in a patient’s death - and a host of hygiene and personal care failings.
The five week hearing initially began on February 18 but was repeatedly reconvened to allow Smith, 46, of Shirley, in Solihull, time to source documents and complete arguments, but the NMC panel, chaired by Jillian Alderwick, finally decided to remove all three from the Nurses’ Register.
After Mrs Alderwick read out the panel’s decision and reasons, Smith and Casey both strode out of the Mountbatten Suite at the Apollo Hotel, in Edgbaston, in a quiet defiant manner.
When asked how she felt, Smith replied: “I’m going to appeal, but you’ll write what you want anyway.” Casey, 70, of Harborne, then added: “It’s all lies.”
Smith, who had two references withdrawn during Tuesday’s hearing amid claims they were obtained under false pretences, was also attacked for her “complacent” attitude to an outbreak of scabies at the home, after a witness Debbie Railton said it was “rife” and residents were not properly treated.
Mrs Alderwick said: “What concerns the panel most about this case is the complete lack of insight that Mrs Smith has displayed in her failings at Maypole.
“In the face of robust findings by the panel in relation to the facts, misconduct and impairment, she apparently failed - and still fails - to recognise the reality, and gravity, of the situation she has found herself in.
“She is in clear breach of a number of fundamental provisions of the NMC’s Code of Professional Conduct.”
She added: “We discovered conclusively at the very end of the case, in the way she solicited references, that she has shown herself to be untrustworthy.
“We are in no doubt that the catalogue of deficiencies which we have identified in her practice amounts to a gross departure from the relevant standards expected of a nurse.
“Her lack of insight into her failings gives us cause for grave concern that she may well represent a continuing risk to patients or clients.”
Bushell, 48, of West Heath, who did not attend yesterday’s hearing, also faced heavy criticism by the panel over her misconduct, especially for giving a mince pie to an elderly resident who, according to their care plan, should have been on a soft food diet. The resident subsequently choked to death.
Other incidents included giving one resident an “overdose” - two and a half times the recommended doseage - of Diazepam and taking a zimmer frame away from another.
Mrs Alderwick said: “We cannot ignore the fact that her failure, albeit on one tragic occasion, to follow the clear contents of a resident’s care plan that led to that resident’s death.
“What seriously concerns the panel... is the fact that she has displayed a total lack of remorse. She has had no shortage of opportunities during this long hearing to do so, but for some reason chose not to.”
On Casey’s charges, which also included giving residents the wrong medication and allowing a male resident to go into a female resident’s room, she said: “We have been especially struck by the fact that at no time during these proceedings has she expressed any regret or apology for her actions.”
The panel concluded that all three were “fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the NMC register.”