The investigation into the deaths of five residents of a former Northampton care home is to be reopened by Northamptonshire Police.
Five pensioners at Parkside Nursing Home in St Matthew’s Parade died between July and August in 2009.
At the time of their deaths, the coroner ruled they died from natural causes as there was no evidence to suggest that neglect was a direct cause of death. The Chronicle & Echo campaigned at the time for the ruling to be reversed to allow a police investigation to take place. The ruling by the coroner meant that a police inquiry could not be set up.
However, after reviewing the findings of an investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Northamptonshire Police has now decided to reopen its investigation into the deaths.
In December last year, five nurses were struck off after the council hearing into the treatment of some of the residents at the home. The five were home manager Phyllis Johnson and nurses Anastacia Madulu, Girlie Franklin, Maria McKenzie, and Mary Ombu. They were all found to have failed to provide basic care for ten residents.
The evidence given in the tribunal showed that residents at the now closed care home were given a diet of mainly porridge and they suffered pressure sores so deep that the bone was exposed.
At the time of the hearing, the chairman of the tribunal, Michael Cann, said the suffering of the elderly residents was a ‘direct result’ of the nurses’ neglect.
He said: “The panel is of the view that the residents of the home were elderly people, suffering from both mental and physical disabilities and in most cases were also assessed as lacking mental capacity to make decisions regarding their care.
“Those people were unable to care for themselves, extremely vulnerable and completely reliant on the registered nurses at the home.
“A number of residents were found to be suffering from severe grade four pressure sores which had not been correctly treated and which in some cases were so deep that tendons and/or bones were exposed.
“They were malnourished, some were dehydrated and lived in a care home that was described as run-down, filthy, and stocked with faulty or inappropriate equipment.”
The pensioners who died in the two-week period were aged between 83 and 100.
Conservative MP for Northampton South, who called for a police investigation into the deaths in 2009, said he was “delighted” the police had decided to reopen the case.
He said: “The residents suffered half level bed sores which I’m told would have led to flesh rotting which is usually accompanied by blood poisning which can lead to death.
“This was certainly a sign that these people did not get the basic level of care they paid for. As a result of this case I recommended a change in the coroner’s rules and in the way the Care Quality Commission conducts its inspections.
“I hope that the relatives of the elderly patients who died are able to find some comfort.”
Detective Sergeant Ashley Turner, who is leading the operation, said: “We are taking on board the views of the relatives of the five people who died and they are 100 per cent supportive of the police investigation.
“We would also like to speak to anybody who had friends or relatives at Parkside during the time our investigation covers.
“And we would urge any health professionals to come forward if they have any information which they think could help us.”
The investigation into the former home is expected to last several months.
Anyone with any information which they believe might be helpful to the investigation can call Northamptonshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 08000 555111.