Inquiry launched into 'inhumane' treatment of patient at Walsall Manor
The family of a woman with severe learning disabilities is threatening legal action against health chiefs over alleged poor care and a claim that nurses deliberately damaged her life-like doll which she believed to be her own baby.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has apologised for the distress caused and launched an internal investigation.
Susan Hearsey, aged 64, was admitted to Walsall Manor Hospital in September last year following a fall whilst being cared for in a residential home.
During a seven-week stay it is claimed a nurse stuck her fingers up Susan's nose, causing it to bleed, when she wouldn't take her medication, that staff lacked an understanding of her special needs and were continually distracted by their mobile phones.
On one visit her family found her air mattress fully deflated and said that on another occasion she was lying in a soiled bed. They also claimed she was not regularly washed and described her hair as matted and dirty.
But the situation came to a head on September 15 when Susan's sisters Jane Dunn and Jennifer Walker heard her screaming in distress as they arrived on Ward 14 where she was staying.
When they asked her what was wrong she said that a nurse had cut off her doll's arm because she would not 'lie down and shut up'. Earlier staff had been throwing the doll, named Rachel, to each other like a ball.
The family described how she believed the doll to be her own real baby and treated it as such. The toy was found on the floor with its arm detached, some clothes missing, the legs damaged and a chunk of its hair cut off.
Susan, who lived with her parents on the Beechdale Estate until their death 15 years ago, was transferred to a care home the next day.
Mrs Dunn, aged 57, of Chepstow Road, Bloxwich, said: "Susan is still traumatised by her ordeal. We're really angry. Before this happened she was always laughing and joking, now we can't interest her in anything.
"She's lost several stone in weight and insists on having the light on in her room at night. It feels like all the love and care we've given her has been undone."
The family's case has been taken up by legal firm Leigh Day's human rights expert Merry Varney. She said: "This is a terribly sad case involving not only allegations of poor nursing care but also serious allegations of cruel and inhumane treatment. We believe that owing to the seriousness of this matter, a full independent investigation should be undertaken."
In a statement Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: "We would like to repeat our sincere apologies for the distress that Susan and her family have experienced following Susan's stay at Walsall Manor Hospital last year.
"We have taken the concerns raised extremely seriously and have undertaken a full and detailed investigation into the issues which were highlighted."
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