Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Health Ministers could be sued by families over Dunmurry Manor scandal

By Lisa Smyth

Former Health Ministers could face legal action after an official investigation found residents at a Co Antrim care home suffered inhumane and degrading care.

Families of residents of Dunmurry Manor have taken legal advice following the publication of a damning report by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland (COPNI).

Among the shocking catalogue of deficiencies was a failure to act over resident-on-resident sex abuse, elderly people left for hours in urine-soaked clothing, residents going without food and water and some going without medication for three weeks at a time.

In one particularly upsetting example of neglect uncovered by the Commissioner, a resident’s bone was exposed as a result of a pressure sore that had been left to fester.

Following a meeting between residents’ families and Joe McVeigh from KRW Law yesterday afternoon, a spokeswoman said: “Our solicitor is currently considering the COPNI report with a view to possible criminal liability and the role of all statutory agencies, up to and including various health ministers.”

The development came just hours after health officials announced an outbreak of a potentially deadly bug at the care home, outside Belfast.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) declared an outbreak of C difficile at the home, just days after the Belfast Telegraph revealed a resident died there a few weeks ago while suffering from the bug.

An outbreak is defined as two or more cases, however the PHA last night refused to say how many people have been diagnosed with the infection, or when it was informed of the situation.

It is the latest incident at the facility, which came under fire last week following publication of the Commissioner’s report.

A PHA spokesman last night said it “is working with this facility and advice on management of the incident has been given”.

Most people carry the C. diff bacteria in their bowel without becoming ill, however, it can be deadly in people who are elderly or who suffer from other health problems.

The C. diff spore is present in faeces and the infection is spread by poor hand hygiene.

Last week the family of an elderly resident of the home, who died there two weeks ago, said staff had not used gloves or aprons when dealing with their loved one while they had C diff. They added that they were never told they should wear protective equipment to stop the infection from spreading further.

Dunmurry Manor is owned by Runwood Homes, a company based in England.

The health service has paid more than £4.6m to the firm for people to live at Dunmurry Manor since it opened in 2014.

Following the publication of last week’s damning report, Gordon Sanders, Runwood Homes’ owner, said he had implemented a number of measures to drive up standards.

He also revealed the company’s managing director Logan Logeswaran had resigned the day before.

However, Mr Logeswaran subsequently denied his departure had anything to do with the failings at Dunmurry Manor.

And Runwood Homes finance director Martin Cooper subsequently said: “I can assure you Logan has left for his own personal reasons and he has left on completely good terms with us. We wish him the best going

forward.”

The company has refused to explain the two conflicting accounts it has given and a spokeswoman from the firm said it would be making no further statements on the matter.

She also refused to provide any reassurances about the current safety of residents living in the home.

Belfast Telegraph

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