Care Home Manager Cautioned For Delaying Treatment

A care home manager who delayed getting a seriously ill 95-year-old resident vital medical treatment for nearly a fortnight has escaped with a caution.

Sunjay Sungkur, 44, did not arrange for a GP to visit the woman for 12 days at the Sandena Nursing Home in Findon, near Worthing.

It was only when the resident was taken to hospital with a broken ankle that a concerned nurse took photographs of her condition and filed a report.

But the frail pensioner – referred to only as patient A – died just days later.

Hospital staff made further complaints when a second woman – patient B – was found with multiple bedsores on her body and a disintegrated catheter inside her.

The home, owned by Harinder Vyas, was closed down two months later in February 2003.

Sungkur, who managed the 31-bed home between January 2001 and February 2003, was cautioned for charges relating to his failure “to make proper provision for the health and welfare” of his residents.

Nursing and Midwifery Council panel chairwoman Sue Sauter said today: “As a result of your actions indirect harm was caused to two patients.

“Although not deliberate, this was not an isolated incident in that there appeared to be a course of conduct on your part which, whilst it occurred over a fairly short period of time, was not confined to a single event.

“It therefore considered that this was serious misconduct.’ Sungkur, who now manages Portland House Nursing Home, in Portland Road, Hove, had blamed financial pressures, low staff morale and an unsupportive manager were the reasons for his failings.

He said: “The atmosphere at the home was good until Mr Vyas decided he was going to apply for planning permission to sell the home and then the atmosphere became tense and uncertain for everybody working at Sandene.”

He continued: “A couple of the staff left, I tried to stop them but I could not.

“It put lots of pressure on me and alongside the staff, the residents relatives became very concerned.’ Sungkur admitted to delaying getting patient A’s antibiotics and not providing a suitable mattress for a patient at “high risk of skin breakdown”.

He admitted not making an accurate record of patient B’s Waterlow score – a test carried out to determine a patient’s risk of skin sores.

The panel found Sungkur has also failed to maintain patient B’s general hygiene before she was admitted to hospital.

But he was cleared of not properly documenting a large bruise on the womans back as the charge was withdrawn.

Earlier the panel heard that patient A’s family had initially had asked staff not to prolong her life unnecessarily.

However, they asked that medication be given to keep her free from pain.

On 18 December 2002 Sungkur phoned the woman’s family to ask if they could give her antibiotics for her “skin breakdown”.

The next entry on the patient’s notes was dated 30 December 2002, when a GPs visit was arranged and antibiotics finally prescribed.

Less than a week later patient A was rushed to hospital with a broken ankle and died a few days later on 7 January 2003.

The hearing was also told that the multiple bedsores on patient B’s body had horrified hospital staff when she was admitted.

Sungkur was then reported to social services and the Commission for Social Care Inspection was informed.

He was also found guilty of misconduct for failing to provide patient B with “appropriate pressure relieving treatments” – but was cleared of not doing the same in relation to two other patients.

Mrs Sauter said: “In the management of the care home, Mr Sungkur did not comply with the requirements of the NMC code of conduct and his conduct fell short of that expected of a registered nurse.”

But handing Sungkur a caution she added: “You have demonstrated insight into your failings and have taken rehabilitative steps to ensure that such events will not occur again.

“The committee considers that by reason of the conduct of your former employer, you, to an extent, had to run the care home under some pressure if not duress, in that he restricted you financially and made it difficult for you to obtain the equipment you required.”