Concerns raised at care in Chichester

SERIOUS concerns have been raised at the care of a ‘vulnerable’ 83-year-old at the Howard Kidd Unit in Chichester.

However, despite concerns raised by Maureen Leaver’s family, the coroner said she did not lose an ‘opportunity to live’ by being placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway, when she was later admitted to St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester.

Assistant coroner for West Sussex Karen Henderson said she would write to the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust with a prevention of future death report concerning treatment at the Howard Kidd mental health unit, in Bloomfield Drive.

As reported last week, the inquest, which concluded on Monday with a narrative verdict, heard the West Wittering resident was left for two days before medical staff realised she was suffering side effects from medication and hypothermia.

She later died at St Richard’s Hospital on October 6, 2010.

Mrs Leaver was admitted to St Richard’s on September 26, 2010, with profound hypothermia after spending two months at the unit.

It was at Howard Kidd that Mrs Leaver was given the drug risperidone by staff who did not follow guidelines about its prescription.

Dr Henderson said Mrs Leaver had shown a ‘slow cognitive decline for a number of years’, but with the support of her family had lived independently until her admission to the mental health unit in July, 2010.

The inquest found Mrs Leaver received barely any supervision from a senior doctor during her stay on Grove Ward.

“There was a junior doctor on the ward but there was minimal consultant supervision.

“In one period no senior medical consultant saw Mrs Leaver for a period of 17 days,” said Dr Henderson.

She accepted evidence that the onset of hypothermia was likely to have started on September 24, two days before Mrs Leaver was admitted to St Richard’s.

In her summing up, Dr Henderson said the causes of death were bronchopneumonia, hypothermia, risperidone toxicity and sepsis.

She also cited other factors including dementia and type II diabetes.

Sussex Partnership said it deeply regretted the care at Howard Kidd had fallen below its standards and said services had now changed to provide better support and patients were now safe and cared for to the standards the trust expected.

Mrs Leaver’s family made no comment on the verdict.