Nurse at Bristol care home accused of catalogue of failings

A nurse who worked at a Bristol care home has been accused of failing to properly look after patients in her care. Nonhlanhla Nkomo was suspended from Sunnymead Manor in Southmead after a catalogue of errors on a single day which allegedly put patients at serious risk.

Sunnymead Manor hit the headlines in February after it was given a zero rating by care watchdog, the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

The conduct and confidence committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) met yesterday to consider whether Miss Nkomo, 52, who was known as Ivy, was fit to practise.

The committee heard evidence from former care home manager Sue Horsewell, who had employed the registered nurse in April 2006.

On August 21 of that year Miss Nkomo was the nurse in charge of 34 frail, elderly patients on one floor of the nursing home.

It was part of her job to call a doctor to the home if any resident was unwell.

Mrs Horsewell told the committee that shortly after she arrived for work on August 21, the housekeeper told her a male resident had a swollen face.

Mrs Horsewell said: “The side of his face was hugely swollen and he had a red rash. It was obvious he had some sort of infection.

“He had a tooth out the day before.

“I went and spoke to Ivy and asked if she had contacted the GP.

“She was completely unaware there was a problem.”

Mrs Horsewell said she asked the nurse to call a GP. When she checked later that day, Miss Nkomo said the doctor had refused to come and advised the home to contact a dentist instead.

But Miss Nkomo did not know which dentist to contact and had given up trying to get help.

Mrs Horsewell, herself a trained nurse, then took over, called the doctor and collected antibiotics.

“On the first round of the day at 8am she should have spotted there was a problem,” added Mrs Horsewell. “The resident should have received treatment a long time before 7pm.”

During the afternoon of the same day Mrs Horsewell said she heard Miss Nkomo arguing with the doctor visiting a female patient who was diabetic.

Miss Nkomo insisted that the patient was not diabetic until it was pointed out to her on the women’s care plan, which she was responsible for writing, the committee heard.

Mrs Horsewell also saw Miss Nkomo break the care home rules by giving a care assistant the keys to the drugs cupboard, the hearing was told.

Miss Nkomo was suspended at 6pm on August 21.

Mrs Horsewell then checked patients drugs’ records and found that eight had not been signed that day.

This could have led to eight patients potentially being given drugs twice, which could have proved fatal.

Miss Nkomo did not attend the hearing and she could be in South Africa.

The nurse has not formally denied the accusations made against her but she has sent a letter.

The hearing concludes today.