Cruel care home nurse suspended after stuffing paper towel in dementia patient’s mouth

Nigel Phillips
Nigel Phillips

A CRUEL nurse stuffed a paper towel in an elderly dementia sufferer’s mouth before bending back her fingers in a degrading attack at a town care home.

Nigel Phillips accepted a police caution for common assault after admitting the attack at Brierton Lodge, in Hartlepool.

Phillips, 58, was head of mental nursing at the home in Brierton Lane when he carried out the assault on his vulnerable victim.

But he now faces being struck off the register after a nursing watchdog gave him an 18-month suspension while an investigation is carried out.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council made the interim order when its Conduct and Competence Committee met at the Old Bailey, in London, last month.

A report by the committee said: “Mr Phillips was at the time a senior nurse with considerable experience who should have been able to be relied upon to provide care to vulnerable patients.”

He was suspended from work by the nursing home on November 27 following its own investigation.

Phillips declined to comment when he was approached by the Mail at his home in Thornaby Road, Stockton.

Describing the incident, the report from the Conduct and Competence Committee added: “It is alleged that whilst tending to cuts on the fingers of a vulnerable female, elderly resident with dementia, Mr Phillips bent her fingers back and forcefully squeezed her hand, shouted in her face to ‘shut up’ and stuffed a paper towel in her mouth.

“At the time of the home’s investigation into the matter Mr Phillips indicated that he recalled shouting but not what he said, or that he had shouted in the resident’s face.

“He acknowledged stuffing the paper towel in the resident’s mouth, he indicated he had been stressed at the time due to difficult family circumstances.”

Phillips did not attend the hearing, but representatives for him submitted by letter claimed the panel should not impose a suspension order.

They said it was an isolated incident caused by stress, and there was little chance of it happening again.

They also said Phillips was seeking appropriate assistance for “health issues” but did not specify what they were.

But the panel’s report went on to say: “The panel is of the view that based on the information before it there is a risk of repetition of the behaviour alleged.

“The panel therefore concluded that some form of interim order is necessary on the grounds of public protection.

“It is also determined that an order is otherwise in the public interest, in order to maintain confidence in the professions and the National Midwifery Council as regulator and would be in Mr Phillips’ own interests considering his health condition.”

Brierton Lodge is a 58-bed home split between patients with physical disabilities and dementia and other mental health needs.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council will review Phillips’ interim suspension order within six months and every three months after.

A panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee still has to consider the allegations of mistreatment independently and decide what action, if any, to take.

Cleveland Police confirmed Phillips had accepted a caution for common assault and no other action was being taken.

A BUPA spokesperson for Brierton Lodge said: “Our residents’ wellbeing is our number one priority.

“We have an active whistle-blowing system and our carers used it to raise concerns about an individual’s behaviour.

“We acted immediately, removed the nurse from the home and reported him to the relevant authorities.”