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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Beech Lodge care home relatives: We still don't know how our loved ones were injured

Written by Flora Thompson

The families of two disabled men severely injured at a care home said a report into how authorities handled the cases has confirmed fears they have been raising for three years - but they are still seeking answers.

Martyn Lewis and Mark Bates said they felt "utterly failed and let down" by authorities "across the board". They said how their loved ones were injured "remains a mystery".

Mr Bates (pictured, left), 64, of Surrey, said: "We, to date, have no answers on how the injuries occurred and we are still looking for closure and justice."

Mr Lewis (pictured, right), 59, of Kent, said in some ways he felt "vindicated" for persisting in raising the concerns and praised the "thorough" report but said he was not convinced whether the recommendations would be followed.

They said their fears were considered in the report but "summarily dismissed" and evidence they provided the authorities with years ago was "ignored".

Mr Lewis added: "I have come to describe this area as 'wild West Sussex' as I believe it is lawless when it comes to adult safeguarding."

They now plan to take stock of the findings and seek advice with a view to considering legal action.

They have appealed for any relatives who have had similar experiences to contact them.

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care "sincerely apologised" to the families for the distress caused and said it was committed to improving standards, adding: "The health, well-being and safety of the people we support is our top priority and we are absolutely committed to providing the highest quality care."

He said all recommendations made to the company in the report have been introduced. Measures include hiring an experienced new head of safeguarding who is a former police officer and banning agency staff from working unless they are clearly identified, and have the right qualifications and experience.

Beech Lodge is now rated "good" by the Care Quality Commission.

West Sussex County Council - which itself was criticised in the report - said it was clear the care provided by Sussex Health Care "was not good enough".

Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health said: "The council take on board the recommendations that arise from the independent report and will continue to improve our safeguarding services.

"We will work closely with the Independent Safeguarding Adults Board to oversee the safety and care of residents in all West Sussex-based care homes".

Detective Superintendent Fiona Macpherson said Sussex Police "fully accept" recommendations and recognise there was a delay in beginning the criminal investigation.

She added: "The investigation that was subsequently undertaken was thorough, the Crown Prosecution Service were consulted about aspects of the case and we made the decision that there was not the evidence to support any criminal charges."

Allison Cannon, chief nurse for Coastal West Sussex, Crawley, and Horsham and Mid Sussex clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said the report made clear the residents and loved ones were "let down by unacceptable care", adding: "The quality and safety of the care in our community is our upmost priority."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA Wire.