Belfast Telegraph

Man who ran care home at centre of abuse scandal is struck off nursing register

 

Ralph’s Close care home near Londonderry
Ralph’s Close care home near Londonderry

By Lisa Smyth

The former manager of a Londonderry care home at the centre of an abuse scandal has been struck off the nursing register.

Michael Battersby can no longer work as a nurse after he was found guilty of a series of failings, including a failure to investigate when a resident of Ralph's Close care home fell and sustained a fracture.

He also did not report the incident, which happened on February 7, 2012, to the relevant authorities.

According to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), Mr Battersby was the registered manager of the facility between November 2011 and early September 2012.

The allegations against Mr Battersby, which led to him being struck off the nursing register, happened between October 2011 and September 5, 2012.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found him guilty of a number of charges.

These included failing to report to the RQIA, Northern Ireland's health regulator, when a resident sustained a head injury and not ensuring that staff sought medical attention in relation to the incident.

He also failed to investigate unexplained injuries on more than one occasion.

In relation to another resident, he did not record the fact the person had choked, and when another resident collapsed in the shower he did not report the incident to the RQIA or let the person's family know what had happened within a timely manner.

The NMC originally placed a 12-month suspension order on Mr Battersby's licence to practise.

However, the matter was reviewed last month and the NMC panel deemed "Mr Battersby is liable in the future to act so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm".

The panel came to this decision as "there is no evidence to demonstrate that he has fully remediated his misconduct or that he has full insight into his failings". As a result, a decision was made to impose a striking-off order which will come into effect on November 16.

The Western Trust had to apologise to the families of 11 vulnerable adults after an investigation into conditions at Ralph's Close confirmed allegations of abuse.

The investigation was sparked after an anonymous letter was sent to a Western Trust manager in July 2012, alleging horrendous abuse.

Eleven members of staff were suspended.

A police investigation was triggered almost immediately but it concluded there was no medical evidence of wilful neglect that would constitute criminal abuse in a court of law.

The Public Prosecution Service subsequently advised police investigators and no further action was taken.

However, a confidential NHS report into conditions at the home, that was later leaked to the press, revealed harrowing accounts of neglect and abuse by staff.

The treatment of residents was described as "institutional abuse" in the report.

Some of the findings of the probe included residents being called "crying b*****ds" and "systematic physical abuse" of one resident.

It also emerged that one member of staff had admitted that he had used his "martial arts" qualification in order to get a resident to the floor, which led to the person sustaining a neck injury.

At the time, the then Health Minister Edwin Poots described the abuse as "disturbing".

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