Public inquiry call over care home deaths

A SOUTH Tyneside dad is calling for a public inquiry into the deaths of pensioners at a borough care home.

Police are probing 16 deaths at St Michael's View nursing home in Westoe, South Shields, after the death of Joyce Wordingham in February.

Detectives were called when an out-of-hours GP raised concerns after the 80-year-old died from bronchial pneumonia.

A 45-year-old woman voluntarily attended South Shields police station in relation to the matter, and the circumstances surrounding 15 other deaths are being looked at.

Now dad-of-two Paul Lynn, whose mum Margaret was at St Michael's View, in St Michael's Avenue North, is demanding a public inquiry.

Mrs Lynn died from pneumonia in September 2007, aged 65.

Mr Lynn, 41, from Simonside, in South Shields, said: "I've never known anything like it. I had so many meetings with social services and staff, but nothing ever seemed to get done.

"Allegedly they started to look into matters and started a case, but then mum died and I never heard anything else.

"I'm doing this for my mum, it's the least she deserves. I want answers."

Meanwhile a nephew whose elderly was at nearby sister care home Garden Hill, has asked police to investigate his death.

Walter Main, 93, was at the home until he died from pneumonia at the end of January 2009.

The home had its two-star rating dropped to zero following a surprise visits by Care Quality Commission inspectors in February.

Inspectors found windows had been left open by staff who were too hot, feeding regimes weren't being adhered to and trips and slips weren't being recorded properly.

Mr Main, who lives in Lincoln, but whose family live in South Shields, has now contacted the police in relation to the pensioner's death.

He said: "I initially rang them expressing my concerns surrounding my uncle's death, and they rang me back and took more details."

The family claim they had been raising concerns about the standards in the home from November 2008, but complaints were ignored.

Mr Main added: "Some people might ask why we didn't move my uncle, but my father who is 90 wanted to be near his last surviving brother."

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: "Safeguarding vulnerable adults is of utmost importance and we investigate thoroughly in all cases where concerns are raised over their treatment and care.

"Investigations are carried out under established procedures by South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Primary Care Trust (PCT) and representatives of the owners of the care homes involved.

"If necessary, an action plan is developed and the council and PCT work with the homeowners to ensure the plan is implemented. This also involves regular monitoring visits from council and PCT officers."