An inquest heard that it was “standard procedure” to falsify observation logs on wards at Northgate Hospital. The inquest also heard that staff at the Northgate Hospital mental health trust falsified records that they had checked on a vulnerable patient the night he died.
The patient Eliot Harris was in April 2020, found dead in his room at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
A police witness showed how CCTV footage contradicted 19 log entries in a detailed statement. The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has been approached to issue a statement on the matter.
An inquest into the death of Mr Harris, 48, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard that he was admitted to hospital after the care home where he was a resident requested an urgent mental health assessment.
He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, had a history of epileptic seizures and had stopped taking his medication. He was deemed to be high risk and was supposed to be on regular checks four times an hour.
Det Sgt Nick Appleton in a witness statement read out in court described how police had cross referenced logs of his observations with CCTV recordings. He listed 19 entries which had been signed in the observation record by a staff member indicating that Mr Harris had been checked, but was not backed up by the CCTV record.
He further identified a number of “points of concern” in his evidence in which falsifying logs was a “standard practice” on wards.
The discrepancies pointed out took place between 17:35 BST and 00:00 on the night in question. Det Sgt Appleton said that it came to light the required checks had not been completed. Despite Staff recording that checks had been completed, the CCTV showed they had not.
At approximately 01:30, Mr. Harris was found unresponsive in his bed and was pronounced dead 30minutes later.
The inquest had earlier been told that on the evening of Mr Harris’ death, the ward was short staffed due to sickness and Covid.
The court also heard that members of the community and crisis team had been drafted in to provide help to colleagues on the ward.
The inquest is expected to continue for the rest of the week and is being held before a jury.
The death of a loved one can be very traumatic and even more so if you have strong reason to believe that it was caused by medical negligence.
A coroner inquest simply means to investigate the cause of death and is very important when the death of the person is suspicious. A legal action can however be taken with or without a coroner’s inquest report. The report of a coroner’s inquest however provides answers to the identity of the deceased, the place and time of death as well as how the deceased came to their demise.
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