Manager of shut-down Northampton elderly care home lied about nursing qualifications

Mu'Gbortima Care Services specialised in elderly care.
Mu'Gbortima Care Services specialised in elderly care.

The boss of a small Northampton care home that was closed for posing "a serious risk" to its patients has been struck off the nursing register.

Florence Beatrice Smith oversaw dozens of failures in care at her private care home, Mu'Gbortima Care Services in Colwyn Road, The Mounts, and created an unsafe environment for her clients, a misconduct committee found.

She employed staff without basic or adequate training in elderly patient care and without performing CRB checks, and was even practising without a valid nursing qualification.

She appeared before a misconduct committee in London faced with over 50 charges for failures in care.

A report by the panel said: "Your misconduct amounted to a very serious departure from the standards expected of a registered nurse and had the potential to place patients at unwarranted risk of harm.

"Your numerous and wide-ranging clinical failings gave rise to such significant concerns on the part of the Clinical Commissioning Group and the CQC about patient safety that they determined that your care home and agency should be closed.

"There was also a lack of evidence of remorse and reflection."

Mu'Gbortima Care Services was shut down in 2014 following an emergency inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Smith operated a seven-bed care home out of the residential house as well as a care-in-the-community service.

But a routine inspection in July 2014 by Nene CCG found multiple failings at the home and the CQC arrived the next day to inspect Mu'Gbortima.

They found the care home could not list who their staff were or where they were working, who their patients were or even provide basic information about staff employed at the service.

The report from 2014, said: “Despite being given several opportunities to provide this information, they failed to provide an accurate and consistent record of the information requested.

"This meant there was a serious risk that people would receive unsafe care and might be harmed.”

They also found that Mu'Gbortima did not carry out proper patient assessments, had no lifts and at one point made a care-in-the-community patient wait "at least 13 hours" in her own house to be seen because a night carer failed to show up.

Mu'Gbortima failed in the five major categories of the inspection and was shut down.

Smith has now been banned from practicing for misconduct after appearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council between October 2016 and March 2017 at a conduct and competence committee hearing.

They found Smith had lied to the Nene CCG quality team, and at the time of the 2014 inspection was not qualified as a registered general nurse.

The panel said she hired staff without ensuring they had 'adequate training in respect of manual handling, basic life support, first aid, mental capacity, end of life care, health and safety, infection control, safeguarding, fire safety, nutrition, continence management, hoist training, the management of medication and/or the care of people with dementia'.

Smith also failed to perform CRB checks on several members of staff, meaning she did not check if they had adequate training or even if they had a criminal record.

The committee decided that Smith's actions amounted to misconduct and that her ability to practise care was impaired.

She was struck off the nursing register and banned from returning to practice.

The committee said: "This case did not involve a single instance of misconduct - it involved repeated instances of clinical failings and two separate instances of the dishonest provision of misleading information.

The inspectors at the 2014 visit to MuG'bortima said they heard many compliments about individual members of staff and their levels of care, and the CQC said people appeared well-cared for. They also noted letters and cards of thanks sent to the home.

A spokewoman from NHS Nene and Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups said: "CCGs are not involved in the recruitment of staff to a privately run care home, but it is the responsibility of CCGs to ensure that the right standards of care are being met.

"Following procedure, in 2014 Nene and Corby CCGs’ joint Quality Team conducted a review of the Mu'Gbortima Care Services Care Home at Colwyn Road. Concerns were subsequently raised to the Care Quality Commission, who then conducted their own visit and found the service to be inadequate.

"Nene and Corby CCGs are pleased that this matter is now resolved and to have contributed to ensuring that patient safety remains a first priority in Northamptonshire.”