Detectives To Probe Death Of Pensioner In Tyneside Care Home

Police have launched an investigation into the death of a pensioner in a care home. The probe is under way following a suspected mix-up in medication given to John Gallagher.

The 71-year-old was a patient in Silverdale nursing home in Newcastle’s West End when he died last Thursday.

It is understood Mr Gallagher’s death was reported to Northumbria Police the next day.

He had been receiving treatment in the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust unit which caters for older patients with mental health problems.

Northumbria Police Det Chief Insp Mark Anastasi, a senior investigating officer, is heading the inquiry on behalf of the Newcastle Coroner.

The Chronicle understands the investigation centres on the medication and dosage administered to Mr Gallagher prior to his death.

However, no-one has been arrested in connection with the inquiry and there is no suggestion Mr Gallagher was targeted in a criminal act.

Police are looking at the circumstances which led to the patient receiving an amount of drugs as part of his treatment on Monday, November 5.

Mr Gallagher, from the Newcastle area, died three days later on November 8. Post mortem results were inconclusive. Medical experts have been unable to say the medication led to his death.

The care home staff have been interviewed as a matter of course in the inquiry.

Management at the West End unit reported the incident to police and have co-operated fully with the investigation.

Mr Gallagher’s wife and family have been informed about the course of the police inquiry and family liaison officers have been appointed to keep them updated. The family were too distressed to talk about their loss today.

DCI Anastasi said: “I can confirm that we are investigating the death of an elderly man on Thursday, November 8, so that a report can be prepared for the coroner.

“John Gallagher, 71, was a resident at the Silverdale nursing home in Newcastle, which is run as a mental health facility by the Northumberland and Tyne & Wear NHS Trust.”

Silverdale is one of three NHS homes in Newcastle which is part of the Old People’s Mental Health Care Services. The others are Ashgrove, near St Nicholas’ hospital, Gosforth, and Dene Lodge at Denton Burn.

Each nursing home provides in-patient care and day care.

A consultant psychiatrist as well as GPs provide medical care along with a nurse (RGN). They attend the units for regular case reviews.

The majority of patients have undergone a multi-expert assessment as an in-patient in one of the Older People’s Mental Health acute assessment wards or the High Dependency ward at Newcastle General Hospital.

Silverdale has 22 beds and was built in the mid-1980s.

Residents have been assessed as having severe and enduring mental illnesses.

The majority of residents are over 65 and illnesses include dementia.

A high proportion have additional physical or medical needs and behavioural problems.

In the single-story Silverdale, residents have their own rooms and all other facilities are communal.

There are 76 beds with Newcastle Older People’s Mental Health Continuing Care Services in total.

The Silverdale nursing home website states: “Our home is both friendly and well managed where we respond to the needs of each of our residents with courtesy and dignity at all times.

“We have set up a rota system that ensures we have nursing care staff on duty all day and night.

“There is also a 24-hour call system installed that enables our residents to call a member of staff at a moment’s notice.”

Northumberland, Newcastle NHS Trust were unavailable for comment.