A husband-and-wife GP team who ran a private nursing home in Birmingham where 28 residents died within a year could be struck off today.
Dr Jamalapuram Hari Gopal and his wife, Dr Pratury Samrajya Lakshmi, were found guilty yesterday at a disciplinary hearing of a catalogue of failings which left vulnerable, elderly residents in inadequate conditions.
The couple were forced to close Maypole Nursing Home, in Kings Heath, in March 2003 after an unannounced inspection prompted the then National Care Standards Commission to raise "serious concerns" about the care it offered.
These included failing to ensure residents' privacy and dignity was respected, that they received a standard of care required of registered doctors, and that the home was kept clean.
After the inspection NCSC officials highlighted figures which revealed 28 residents died at the home between 2002 and 2003, with 16 having raised particular concerns.
Earlier this month, the Birmingham coroner Aidan Cotter, who investigated 13 deaths at Maypole Nursing Home during 2002, said he would not hold inquests.
Mr Cotter said he had found no evidence which would justify inquests, but added that the home was not run as well as it could have been.
West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service also found no evidence of crimes being committed at the home.
The General Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Panel will now decide if the couple's actions amount to serious professional mis-conduct, and is expected to give its determination later today.
One witness, Hazel Bicknell, whose father Leslie Vines died at the home in September 2003, called for the coroner to re-examine the cases as she believes neglect paid a major role "in some, if not all, these deaths".
Last night she said: "We will never get the real answers until a proper post mortem is done, how else are we to get at the truth?"
The family's solicitor, Victoria Blankstone, of Birmingham law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "If the reports are correct then we are pleased to hear of the GMC's findings.
"The family are glad that they have had their voices heard. The GMC hearing, whilst it may not have answered all of the family's questions, has helped to answer the truth of occur-rences at the Maypole Nursing Home.
"We are currently considering a review of the coroner's direction, particularly following the GMC's findings.
"In the absence of any inquest, however, we believe that a full public inquiry would be helpful."
The GMC heard how Dr Gopal voluntarily withdrew himself from practice for a time, while his wife had effectively left the profession and would be seeking to withdraw her name from the medical register.
Philip Gaisford, representing the couple, defended their record. One of the witnesses had told the panel earlier that residents at the care home were "loved and well cared for", he said.
"The chief inspector of the health authority said while not one of the best, (the home) was not one of the worst." ..SUPL: