Inquiry report condemns hospital over fatal restraint
Posted Monday 23 October 2006
An inquiry report due for release on Monday is understood to be highly critical of the circumstances leading to the death of Geoffrey Hodgkins, a mental health patient at St James's Hospital in Portsmouth, in November 2004.
The report, commissioned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority, highlights a series of worrying failings in Mr Hodgkins' care leading up to the his death while he was being held down by nurses and untrained security staff.
The report will reveal that Mr Hodgkins was restrained even though he was posing no threat to staff or patients on the ward, and had gone into a room by himself. The 2003 inquiry into the death of David 'Rocky' Bennett recommended that no patient be restrained face down for more than three minutes (1), as did Mr Hodgkins' own care plan. Mr Hodgkins was held down for 25 minutes, until he stopped breathing, while staff allegedly passed round a cigarette.
Nurses had expressed their concern to consultants at the hospital as far back as 2000 about the use of restraint on Mr Hodgkins - he had sometimes been restrained for periods of up to seven hours at a time. During these, he frequently experienced difficulty breathing. Staff had asked for alternatives to restraint to be examined, and for a physical health check for Mr Hodgkins - their letter was never even acknowledged. Security staff were routinely used in restraints of patients at the time of the death, despite not having received appropriate training.
Mr Hodgkins' family has been supported by Mind in Havant and East Hants.
Bruce Hodgkins, brother of Geoffrey, said:
"I want to know why my brother was grabbed by up to seven people, forced to the floor, and held down for 25 minutes, until he started to turn blue. He was in a room by himself and wasn't being violent or aggressive. No one even tried to talk to him before they pinned him down."
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"Any death in a mental health inpatient unit is a tragedy. This case highlights an appalling lack of adherence to both expert recommendations and local practice. It is almost unbelievable, after the high profile Rocky Bennett inquiry, that something like this could happen again."
1) The inquiry into the death of David 'Rocky' Bennett, who also died after being held down for 25 minutes, recommended that no patient be restrained face down for more than three minutes under any circumstances. The Government refused to adopt this recommendation.