Care home boss admits failings

Pangbourne Residential Care Home.
Pangbourne Residential Care Home.
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A PSYCHIATRIST may be struck off after he admitted failing to ensure the well-being of patients at a care home he ran.

A General Medical Council (GMC) inquiry has begun into Dr Samarendra Nath Mahapatra and his running of Pangbourne Residential Care Home, in the West Park area of Hartlepool.

The home closed in June 2009 after Hartlepool Borough Council and independent investigators raised “serious concerns” about the care being given to vulnerable residents.

Twelve residents had to be rehomed after the concerns were raised and fifteen workers lost their jobs.

Dr Mahapatra, who owned the home and was also a consultant psychiatrist for the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust between August 2004 and December 2009, has admitted a string of charges.

They include failing to carry out his responsibility to “ensure the well being of the residents of the home”.

He also accepted that he did not employ “fit and proper persons” as managers and the standards of staffing were “inadequate”, including three members not undergoing Criminal Records Bureau checks.

All the charges date back to between June 2006 and May 2009.

He also admitted that during June 2009, he “misled” the NHS trust by telling bosses there were no serious issues he was aware at the home.

That came to light after one of his patients was admitted to the home in June 2008, but he did not transfer them to a different consultant psychiatrist until a month later, which was a conflict of interest between his role as consultant psychiatrist and co-proprietor of the home, which he owned with his wife.

The GMC’s Fitness to Practice Panel is hearing his case in Manchester.

The Mail reported how trouble shooters were brought in to run the private care home two years ago after a council probe uncovered “serious concerns” about the care given to vulnerable residents.

The privately-run home, in Park Avenue, was investigated by independent assessors before local authority staff carried out their own visit and came back with similar opinions.

As a result of those concerns, a team of council staff were drafted in to work alongside existing staff already in the home.

The council also notified Care Quality Commission, the regulatory body for care homes in England.

Two residents moved out almost immediately while 10 more, whose ages ranged from 40 up to over 60, remained in the home, which could cater for up to 17.

But they were forced to move out a few weeks later as the home closed with fifteen workers losing their jobs.

The Mail spoke to the former workers when they got together to defend their role after council investigators said care had fallen “well short” of what was expected.

Renie Swan-Learoyd, 58 at the time, was travelling from Peterlee to work as a night-shift support worker.

She told the Mail on the day the home closed: “We had to do everything. We had to do a two-person job.

“We managed well as a team most of the time, but we always said we needed more staff and were told we couldn’t have any.

“It’s sad it’s come to this as there was nothing wrong with the staff. We all worked hard and tried our best.”