TV Review: Real Story

Real Story
7.30pm, 21 August


Fiona Bruce opened the programme stating the importance of dignity and respect, but the chilling facts that emerged suggested that these were alien concepts at Maypole Nursing Home, writes Les Bright.

An earlier edition – “What killed my Dad?” – in which the presenter questioned the cause of death on the certificate issued after her father died in hospital, generated a great deal of public interest and led the team to the doors of this Birmingham home.

It closed three years ago, and the GMC struck off the former owners, Dr Hari Gopal and his wife Dr Pratury Samrajya Lakshmi, earlier this year.

Contrary to professional advice they had acted as residents’ GPs and were responsible for certifying deaths.

In 2000 five died; in 2001, eight, but the following year 27 people died out of 31 residents, with pneumonia frequently cited as the cause of death.

The ghost of Harold Shipman hovered over the programme, and must have caused viewers to question whether any lessons had been learned. This was no “ordinary” home – drugs were misused to restrain confused residents, and relatives were asked to purchase bucket seats.

A former inspector told viewers that if used incorrectly such equipment could seriously affect a frail older person’s health and hasten death, while a pharmacist whose father had been a resident expressed grave concern about medicine management there and elsewhere in the city.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection’s spokesperson described many concerns about poor practice, suggesting that the home and its failings were well known – so why it had taken so long to act? And where was the Healthcare Commission?

Les Bright is professional adviser to the Relatives and Residents Association and author of Showing Restraint: Challenging the Use of Restraint in Care Homes

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