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Nursing home deaths

31st August 2006

24052006_nursinghome1.jpgReal Story reported on new evidence about serious failings at the Maypole Nursing home in Birmingham where 27 out of 31 residents died without satisfactory explanation in one year.

The home in Birmingham, which was registered to look after elderly and mentally infirm patients, was run and owned by two doctors, Dr Hari Gopal and his wife Dr Pratury Lakshmi, who were also GPs for the residents.

Bronchial pneumonia was given as the primary cause of death in 80% of the deaths, but a GMC hearing ruled there was no evidence to support this in the cases they examined. The doctors' were struck off in January 2006 and the failings were described as "inexcusable"; the GMC found them guilty of serious professional misconduct.

In 2002 twenty-seven people died in 2002 at the Maypole; the number of deaths the previous year had been eight. Real Story obtained evidence under the Freedom of Information Act suggesting that the authorities were aware of failings at the home going back more than a decade before it was closed. 

The programme talked to relatives of residents who had died, and ex-care home inspectors, painting a picture of staff shortages, over-medication, poor nutrition and alleged physical restraint.  The Maypole closed in 2003 and Birmingham authorities have since revised their procedures.

Although West Midlands Police have investigated they were satisfied there was no evidence of any crime having been committed. The Birmingham coroner has declined to open inquests into the deaths. A solicitor representing some of the families of residents who died is now seeking a judicial review with an aim of forcing inquests.

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