Care home briefing 141 – The consequences of poor care
In an increasingly litigious society, poor care can obviously generate complaints, claims, adult safeguarding, contractual or other compensation claims. There may well be commissioning and regulatory problems as well. Individual nurses can also face difficulties with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
It is illustrative that a recent case where poor care including a failure to implement care plans, to ensure a resident receives sufficient nutrition and to ensure pressure wounds were treated led to two nurses being struck off the register by the NMC. The care was described by the disciplinary panel of the NMC as a “catalogue of wholesale failures towards extremely vulnerable patients”.
However, we are also seeing an increasing number of referrals of such cases to the police for prosecution either under Section 44 Mental Capacity Act (the ill treatment or neglect of those who lack capacity) or under Section 127 of the Mental Health Act (the ill treatment or neglect of mental health patients). The new offence proposed by the government to include the wilful neglect or ill treatment of those with capacity is likely to see a further increase in these cases.
Where such police investigations are taking place, it is obviously important that the individual receives prompt and specialist legal advice on their rights and the approach to adopt. The legal representative should be involved from the beginning even before any “informal” conversations with prosecution authorities take place.
In particular staff should be aware of their rights during interview:
- Right to be cautioned
- Right to have significant statement or silence put
- Right to refuse to answer questions (but note that an inference can be drawn)
- Right to legal advice/representation
- Right to know the offence being questioned for.
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This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.