Telegraph (London), March 23, 2012
Alzheimer’s sufferer Dorothy Griffiths, 87, was found sitting down after staff heard a bang and a carer went to the office for help to lift her.
But agency nurse Abdul Bhutto, who was in charge, said they would have to wait.
Carer Zoe Shaw told the Sheffield hearing: “It took between five and ten minutes because he was praying upstairs in the office on his prayer mat. A staff member told me we had to wait for him to finish.”
An ambulance was not called for nearly four hours after Mrs Griffiths fell from bed and cut her head and suffered a gash to her hip at the privately-run Valley Park Nursing Home in Wombwell, near Barnsley.
She died later in hospital. Mr Bhutto failed to appear at the inquest and a summons had to be issued for him to attend the resumed hearing later in the year.
Assistant deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood said he had contacted him during a recess and he denied being the duty nurse that night and said he had been there on a course.
Mrs Griffiths, the widow of former Barnsley footballer Steve Griffiths, who used to live in Wombwell, had been a resident at the home since 2009 and died last November.
She was put to bed at 9.45pm on October 24 and checked checked every two hours, according to Zoe Shaw.
The old lady was using the toilet at 4am and Mrs Shaw went to an office to fill in paperwork.
She said Mrs Griffiths was not prone to falls and was not considered “at risk”.
She and another carer found her on the floor and Mrs Shaw went to get help from Mr Bhutto. He was the most senior nurse on night duty at the home, run by the Mimosa Healthcare Group, because the senior carer was unable to work havning been on duty for six of the previous seven nights.
When Mr Bhutto arrived he checked the pensioner’s limbs, took her blood presssure and pulse while she was still on the floor and told the carers to put her back into bed.
But instead Mrs Shaw, worried that she might fall again, washed the old lady, dressed her and took her to the office while she carried on filling forms.
At about 5.45am she took her to the lounge and said she was “talking fine” and walking around.
But at breakfast-time when the residents were being offered a cup of tea Mrs Griffiths was found unresponsive and an ambulance was called at about 7.30am.
Mrs Shaw, who broke down and wept in the witness box, said she would have called an ambulance immediately after the fall but had only since discovered that staff could override a nurses’ decision.
Speaking after the inquest was adjourned Dorothy’s daughter Jean David, 61, said: “We are quite upset that Mr Bhutto hadn’t appeared and we are having to come here again particularly as my brother is having to come up from Staffordshire. We would like it to have been done and dusted but we can’t leave it without his evidence.”