Inquest into deaths of seven care home residents hears owner was ‘rude and confrontational’

The owner of a scandal-hit nursing home where seven residents died after suffering poor care was rude and confrontational with watchdog inspectors, an inquest has heard.

Dr Prana Das was “very rude and offensive” and the social care inspectors ended the meeting because he was becoming even more “angry, unreasonable and confrontational”.

An inquest in Newport, Gwent, is hearing evidence on the deaths of seven elderly residents at the Brithdir nursing home in South Wales between 2003 and 2005.

Some of them had suffered dehydration, malnourishment, and pressure sores.

Brithdir was closed in 2006, and its owner, Dr Das, suffered a brain injury in 2012, which meant he never stood trial for alleged failings in care. He died in January last year, aged 73.

Carole Reece Williams, who worked for the then Gwent Health Authority as a nurse assessor, told the inquest of a meeting she and two inspectors from Care Inspectorate Wales, John Powell and Alison Price, had at Brithdir with Dr Das in June 2003.

She said the meeting had been arranged at the request of Dr Das to discuss the registration of the home and its manager, Peter Smith.

“Throughout the meeting Mr Powell made several attempts to explain the registration process of the home and the manager,” Mrs Reece Williams said in a written statement.

“Despite his continuing efforts to explain and discuss with Dr Das, it was met by Dr Das talking over him.

“He wasn’t prepared to give Mr Powell time to explain, and neither was he prepared for Alison Price to explain or illustrate some of the concerns they had regarding the management and operation of Brithdir.

“Dr Das refused to accept or was unable to understand the registration process of the home and manager.

“This was despite John’s continuing and best efforts to explain the regulatory requirements of the Care Standards Act 2000.

“In fact, Dr Das was very rude and personalised, and was offensive towards John. John Powell remained professional and was not perturbed by the remarks made by Dr Das.

“Eventually the meeting was terminated by John Powell as Dr Das was evidently becoming more angry, unreasonable and confrontational.

“There was no purpose in continuing the meeting because Dr Das was becoming more irate. John did give him the opportunity to carry on but because of his rude remarks we stopped the meeting and left.”

Mrs Reece Williams also recalled an occasion when she and Mrs Price carried out a pre-arranged inspection of the Holly House residential home, which was also owned by Dr Das, in June 2004.

“The home was a mess and it had been subject to 28 visits since the last inspection year as a result of concerns by Care Inspectorate Wales as regards the management, care and service delivery to the service users being accommodated,” she said.

“The overall impression gained by both inspectors was of a poorly managed service with apparent failure to give due regard to any notices of actions being issued by Care Inspectorate Wales.

“In addition, there were regular breaches of the staffing notice which was part of the home’s registration requirements under the Care Standards Act.

“All standards which were reviewed during the inspection process failed to meet the full regulatory requirement.”

Holly House later closed and many of the residents and staff were transferred to Brithdir, the hearing has previously been told.

The inquest is looking at the deaths of former Brithdir residents Stanley James, 89, June Hamer, 71, Stanley Bradford, 76, Evelyn Jones, 87, Edith Evans, 85, and William Hickman, 71.

A hearing into the death of a seventh resident, Matthew Higgins, 86, will be held following the conclusion of the other six.

The inquest continues.

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