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East Kent Hospitals Trust apologises after dementia patient restrained by cloth over head


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Staff at a Kent hospital forcibly restrained a man with dementia – including holding a cloth over his head.

The East Kent Hospitals Trust, which runs the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford , has apologised after the incident was unearthed during an internal probe.

The William Harvey Hospital has come under fire for its treatment of a 77-year-old dementia sufferer
The William Harvey Hospital has come under fire for its treatment of a 77-year-old dementia sufferer

Investigators found the man was restrained on 19 separate occasions, with one of the most violent coming as staff attempted to insert a catheter.

The 77-year-old patient had the cloth held over his head while other staff members held down his arms and legs.

The dementia sufferer's request for restraint to stop were repeatedly ignored, and he was found to be bruised by security guards.

While the internal report found his condition could make him confused and hit out at staff, it noted that hospital workers rarely attempted to de-escalate these situations.

Over the course of his three-week stay, he was restrained 19 times - 18 of which saw assistance from security guards.

"It is truly appalling..."

In the first incident on November 29, the limb restraint caused "broken skin, redness to wrists and knees".

Between December 6 and December 15, guards were called to control the patient 15 times.

In one incident, nurses restrained him by themselves, with the report stating: "restraint by nursing staff for catheterisation without sedation, 20 minute restraint, intermittent release".

Someone who saw footage of one of the incidents involving security told the BBC "it is truly appalling".

The employee described how the man was lifted from a sitting position, thrown onto a bed, and restrained by two security guards and four care staff.

Nurses and security guards worked together to restrain the man. Stock image
Nurses and security guards worked together to restrain the man. Stock image

After struggling and repeatedly requesting an end to the ordeal, he spat at those restraining him.

In response, a carer put cloth over his head.

On December 9, one guard refused to aid in the restraints after asking the patient how he felt about the action.

The report noted a separate occasion that day when a supervisor "threatened to stop assisting, as he felt we were denying human rights", but was told there was a "clinical need and [it was in the] best interest of patient".

He was later moved to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and onto a care home where he is doing much better and is settled.

The man was later taken to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital
The man was later taken to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital

The Harvey's Cambridge J ward in which the man was treated came under fire from the report, which also highlighted wrong medication being given and a lack of sufficient staff.

Furthermore it suggested the nutritional needs of patients were not always met.

In response to the report's findings, The East Kent Hospitals Trust - which also runs Kent and Canterbury and the QEQM in Thanet - has apologised to the man and his family.

A spokeswoman said: "We apologise unreservedly to the patient and his family for the failings in his care, this fell far short of what patients should expect.

“As soon as a member of staff raised their concerns, we reported it to the police and our regulators, suspended a number of staff and opened an investigation, during which we have remained in contact with the patient’s family.

Accusations of malpractice have also been levelled at the maternity services in the QEQM hospital in Thanet
Accusations of malpractice have also been levelled at the maternity services in the QEQM hospital in Thanet

"To support people living with dementia using our services we are rolling out a programme of dementia training for every member of staff, which more than half of staff have completed.”

The trust has already hit the headlines for failings in its maternity care, with incidents where baby deaths could have been avoided .

An investigator has been employed to collate findings into post-birth care at QEQM and William Harvey Hospital.

Already they have been contacted by more parents than originally anticipated.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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