The North East Strategic Health Authority has announced independent inquiries into the care of two mental health patients who separately attacked social care staff in the region, one of whom died.
One of the probes will centre on Ronald Dixon, who pleaded guilty last October to the manslaughter – on grounds of diminished responsibility – of Sunderland mental health worker Ashley Ewing, and was detained indefinitely at Rampton secure hospital, Nottinghamshire.
Attempted murder of social worker
The second inquiry will concern Graham Burton, who was imprisoned indefinitely in June 2007 for the attempted murder of a female social worker.
They will examine and make recommendations on the care and treatment both men were receiving at the time of the attacks, the suitability of care and clinical and professional judgements.
Each panel includes a barrister, two medical staff and a social care representative. Dixon’s panel includes Hartlepool Council director of adult and community services Nicola Bailey; the former head of safeguarding at Sunderland Council, Barbara Williams, will sit on the Burton inquiry.
DH record under scrutiny
The news comes with the Department of Health’s record on tackling violence against social care staff under renewed scrutiny, after Lancashire community support worker Philip Ellison was stabbed to death on a visit to a supported living scheme for adults with low-risk mental health problems in April.
Community Care revealed that the DH had failed to act on key recommendations from an action plan drawn up in 2001 by an expert task force on violence against social care staff. These included the inspection of care providers on staff safety.