NHS bosses apologised today after elderly women were subjected to a campaign of abuse by three healthcare workers on a geriatric ward.
A wheelchair-bound pensioner was beaten and five others neglected and mistreated at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone last year.
Akousa Sakyiwaa, 38, Annette Jackson, 33, and Sharmila Gunda, 36, face jail after they were found guilty of seven counts of ill-treating vulnerable patients on Beech Ward. Gunda was also found guilty of beating patient June Evans. The healthcare assistants were exposed by a whistleblower working on the ward.
Barts Health, the NHS trust that runs the hospital said: “We apologise unreservedly to the patients and their families for the indefensible failings in their treatment. There can be no place under any circumstances for such behaviour in our trust or in the wider NHS.
“On learning of the allegations we immediately notified police, self-declared to the Care Quality Commission, and closed the ward. Following an internal investigation all three workers have had their contracts of employment terminated.” They were arrested after student nurse Lucy Brown reported them following a placement on the ward last spring.
Snaresbrook crown court heard that one victim, Lily Oliver, 92, was admitted on March 27 last year with septic arthritis in her knee. John McNally, prosecuting, said: “She was bedbound and extremely frail, and it is the expert’s opinion that she suffered from dementia and wasn’t able to make her own decisions. Lucy Brown described Sakyiwaa as being extremely rough with Lily Oliver … when Miss Oliver’s bandages were removed she said, ‘Mind my leg.’ Sakyiwaa grabbed her left knee with both hands and pushed it … This caused her to scream in pain and turn pale before falling silent.”
During the campaign of abuse between February and April last year, Sakyiwaa also prodded the breasts of Joan Mussett, 87, and told her: “I’m young and my breasts are better than yours.” When Miss Mussett complained, Sakyiwaa pulled the bedclothes over her head and reportedly said: “See, you’re the dead one.”
June Evans was the only patient still alive or well enough to come to court to give evidence against Sakyiwaa, of Leytonstone; Jackson, of Hounslow; and Gunda, of Ilford.
After yesterday’s verdict, Judge Timothy Lamb QC told them to expect jail and added: “Elderly people have a right to be treated with respect. When they are ill they are entitled to expect, and we must demand, they are properly cared for.” The three were bailed for sentencing on August 23.