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Chief nurse in apology to family of pensioner who drank Flash

Nicola Ranger said she is confident the same mistake cannot happen again.

The chief nurse at the NHS trust responsible for the hospital where a pensioner died after drinking Flash has apologised to her family and vowed the same mistake cannot happen again.

Joan Blaber died six days after drinking the cleaning fluid at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton last year.

Nicola Ranger, chief nurse at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I would like to say how sorry I am to the Blaber family, this has been devastating for them a year ago and also very difficult for them to have to sit through the coroner’s inquest.

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Head nurse Nicola Ranger has apologised to the family of Joan Blaber (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“After the incident, our clinical staff gave exemplary care to try and do their best for Mrs Blaber and also after the incident we took immediate action to remove all green jugs.

“We have done a lot of work with our systems, processes and training since then, so I am confident that an incident like that won’t happen again.”

The inquest heard Flash had been left in an unlocked cupboard, and Ms Ranger said: “We have put in new cupboards, we have put in a new swipe access so we can see both who goes in and out of cupboards and that the doors are then secure.

“We have bought lockable cleaning trolleys and one of the most important things is we have improved and increased training for staff and there is greater vigilance.”

Ms Ranger defended the use of Flash, which the inquest heard was not an essential product for a hospital.

She said: “We did immediately remove Flash after the incident and we took very careful steps before we reintroduced it.

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The pensioner died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton last year (PA)

“Flash is helpful with substances like grime and grease and it does give both a fragrance and a sense of the hospital being clean, I don’t know many hospitals that do not use Flash, the issue here was not the product but it was our management of it.”

Ms Ranger also said the trust had shared information about a previous incident involving a cleaning product being ingested at the hospital and had improved training.

She said: “The trust has never refuted there was an incident, there was an incident and when we did a review back, that was both reported at a local level and at the time we found out about it, it happened in 2016, we reported that incident to the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and the police, there was no non-sharing of that incident.

“It was not shared with the senior team at a time when the trust went into special measures but what we do know is that it is important that we educate, particularly our cleaners.

“It is a good way to remind everybody that products that would be in a household cupboard at home, in a hospital can be very dangerous.”

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