Baldock Manor night staff member 'falls asleep during one-to-one enhanced observations of patient following stroke'
PUBLISHED: 16:54 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 18:20 10 November 2016
A member of night staff at the Baldock Manor mental health unit fell asleep while carrying out one-to-one enhanced observations of a patient who had just returned from hospital following a stroke, it has been claimed.
When the Comet approached the manor about the allegation last month, a spokesman for owners Nouvita Ltd replied: “This is not true. We do not recognise or have any record of this.”
But we have since been passed what seems to be a letter signed by then-ward manager Desmond Phiri, acknowledging this as something reported in February this year, and promising an internal investigation sanctioned by the hospital manager.
We asked the manor’s spokesman about this on Thursday last week, but he has yet to respond.
According to the letter, dated February 18, the claim of a staff member sleeping during observations from 3.05am to 3.25am was made the previous day. The complainant was advised that the manor’s multidisciplinary team had reported the matter externally to the Herts Safeguarding Team.
The letter continues: “Please be advised that the hospital management and myself as your ward manager take all allegations seriously and hence we have taken the above mentioned steps to investigate.”
The Comet has contacted the Herts Safeguarding Team for confirmation that the matter was indeed reported to them.
A concerned neighbour suggested there could be a link to Baldock Manor’s high staff turnover, which – along with a lack of accurate records for its permanent staff or full checks on its sizeable complement of agency workers – contributed to the damning report published by the Care Quality Commission last month, based on visits in November last year.
The neighbour said: “Without wishing to undermine those staff who do a difficult job to the best of their abilities, this allegation of unsafe practice is, sadly, hardly surprising.
“They are well-known locally for their high staff turnover – the advert outside saying ‘staff required’ has been there continually for as long as I can remember, indicating a continual staff shortfall which cannot be good for the patients. You don’t advertise if you have a full staff complement.
“Anyone in business knows high staff turnover is often symptomatic of poor morale, poor staff development and poor pay and conditions.
“This defensive stance, this denial by Nouvita, flying in the face of the evidence that a complaint has been made – whether that complaint is substantiated or not – is deeply worrying when viewed alongside the damning CQC findings.
“It is hardly indicative of an organisation seeking to improve its reputation, to be open or to learn and improve its service provision.”
Read the CQC report by searching for ‘Baldock Manor’ at cqc.org.uk.