Care worker accused of placing plastic bag over elderly patient ‘was playing peekaboo’

A care worker accused of placing a plastic bag over an elderly hospital patient’s head claimed he was playing peekaboo, a court has heard.

Santosh Bhatta, 32, denies ill treating 79-year-old Olinda Mansfield while working as a healthcare assistant at Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool in July last year.

On Tuesday, a trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard Ms Mansfield had been in a complex elderly care unit, for patients who require assessment for care packages, since April last year.

Healthcare assistant Claire Rodgers told the court on July 22 Bhatta (pictured) had been providing one-to-one care for Ms Mansfield.

She said she had been outside Ms Mansfield’s room folding sheets when Bhatta returned from a break and she saw him holding a plastic bag before entering the room.

Ms Rodgers broke down in tears as she told how she had turned to see the bag had been placed over the patient’s head.

She said: “It was her persona I noticed, she had her head bowed, she had her hands on her lap, her persona had changed.”

She said she shouted at Bhatta, who was standing to Ms Mansfield’s right.

Asked by Claire Jones, prosecuting, how he reacted, she said: “He slowly took the bag off her head, it wasn’t a rushed or shocked kind of reaction, and he said he was just playing peekaboo.”

Ms Rodgers said nurse Gianiva Besana then came over after hearing the shout.

She said: “At that point I had to walk away, I felt angry.”

Ms Rodgers said Ms Mansfield was quite a “challenging” patient who would make demands, and there were questions over whether she had learning disabilities or autistic tendencies.

But she said just before Bhatta had gone into her room, she had been speaking about her favourite musicals.

Ms Rodgers said she later reported the incident to ward sister Heather O’Keefe.

Opening the case, Ms Jones said Bhatta had been told to gather his belongings and leave the hospital after the incident was reported.

The following day he was arrested at home and interviewed.

Ms Jones said: “The defendant admitted having what he called a plastic sheet, not a bag, and denied he placed it over the complainant’s head.

“He claimed he was playing peekaboo and he placed it in front of her face.”

Bhatta, of Lindale Close, Moreton, Wirral, denies ill treatment of another by a care worker.

The trial continues.

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