Six staff disciplined at under-fire James Paget Hospital

Six members of staff at an under-fire Norfolk hospital have been disciplined over poor care provided to elderly patients, it has emerged.

It is the latest blow for the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston which has suffered a torrid few months after it was issued with a second formal warning by a watchdog, following a third critical inspection report.

Now a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed there have been 16 investigations carried out by the hospital into abuse, suspected abuse, neglect or poor care of elderly patients aged over 60 years in the 12 month period ending October 30 last year.

There have been 11 disciplinary hearings with six members of staff being the subject of disciplinary sanctions.

Three investigations and three disciplinary hearings have still to be concluded.

Patrick Thompson, chairman of Local Involvement Network Norfolk LINk, said the situation was 'not good enough'.

'One member of staff having to be disciplined is one too many. It is not good enough,' he said. 'Hopefully we can now be assured that the actions taken are a positive move and this is being addressed.

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'I am concerned this has happened but I am also feeling positive in the fact that action has been voiced and that the staff concerned have been disciplined in some way even though at the moment we do not know in what way.'

Hospital spokesman Jon Dack said the six disciplinary sanctions related to poor practice regarding care.

'Our aim is to provide the highest quality care for all our patients,' he said.

'None of the six sanctions relate to abuse, suspected abuse or neglect of elderly patients however, they do relate to poor practice regarding care.

'The six incidents were reported between July and October 2010 through our own robust systems. You would expect this hospital to take action in those circumstances and we have done so.'

In November the Care Quality Commission said the 544-bed hospital needed to improve standards of care or face further action, after it found major concerns in the way the hospital was monitoring and assessing its own care.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: 'Over the last few months on the particular issue of looking after the elderly and their nutritional needs there have clearly been issues which have been raised by the CQC which the hospital needs to address.

'Shortly before Christmas I did have a meeting with Peter Franzen, the acting chairman, and Wendy Slaney, retiring chief executive, and they talked me through the work they are doing to address those issues.

'They recognise there is an issue to address and they are very much up for the challenge. I am hopeful in a few months time there will be an improvement. It is important everyone works together.'

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: 'This highlights again that there have been some real issues at the hospital. The flip side is that there have been these disciplinary hearings so the management, when things do come to light, are prepared to deal with it and not brush it under the table. Taking disciplinary action is the right thing.'

The FoI figures also reveal the hospital made 47 referrals to Norfolk and Suffolk safeguarding adults teams during the 12 month period ending October 30 last year.

All staff at the hospital have mandatory safeguarding adults training which must be refreshed every three years.

Some 83pc of staff are in date with their training meaning a maximum of 17pc could be out of date or off sick or on maternity leave.