Patients hospitalised at death probe home

A NUMBER of patients at a care home under investigation by police have been taken to hospital during the past week, the Evening News can reveal.

• A patient is helped into a taxi outside the Elsie Inglis Nursing Home in Abbeyhill

Serious concerns have been raised about the Elsie Inglis Nursing Home, in Abbeyhill, after a 59-year-old resident died in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. She had been taken to hospital last Monday suffering from serious breathing difficulties.

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The woman, whose name was reported to be Lynn Beveridge died two days later. A district nurse who discovered that Ms Beveridge was suffering from an untreated open wound raised the alarm about the facility, leading Lothian and Borders Police to launch an investigation.

Since then as many as six patients have been taken to hospital with health issues, while others have been moved out of the care home by friends and relatives.

The city council and NHS Lothian have been helping to remove the residents.

Bosses of privately-run Elsie Inglis, in Spring Gardens, have been told it must improve its quality of care by the end of the week or it could face permanent closure by Saturday. At least three other official complaints about the care home have been investigated by Scotland's social work watchdog in the past six months.

The owners, doctors Nawal Bagaria, 69, and Susheela Bagaria, 62, also own Peacock Nursing Home and Woodlands Nursing Home - both in Livingston - through their business Peacock Medicare.

They are also being "closely monitored" by the Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS).

Scotland's social work watchdog has until Friday to launch enforcement action, which would result in the care home's closure, at the city's Sheriff Court.

The extent of problems came to light after Ms Beveridge was taken to the ERI on Monday.

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SCSWIS had looked at three other complaints since November, one of which was upheld and the other two partially upheld.

The upheld complaint in November pointed out that some patients could not understand or properly communicate with the staff. Staff were also told to make improvements to the nutrition and oral health of patients and to improve record-keeping procedures.

A previous upheld complaint in 2006 highlighted poor continence care and unacceptable hydration levels of patients. Issues with infection control and hygiene have also been raised.

A friend of a 96-year-old patient, who yesterday visited the home, said the patient's relatives had brought up "complaint after complaint".

She said: "They were forced to officially complain because of the situation there. There was a lack of attention, the food was barely edible and the staff, as nice as they were, did not seem qualified to do the job.

"Now my friend's 96-year-old mother has had to be moved, which is very distressing for her."

A SCSWIS spokesman said: "We are in daily discussions with the local authority, health board and the service providers. We have taken enforcement action in the form of an improvement notice."

It was also reported today that SCSWIS officials are set to publish a new report following an inspection last month that will grade parts of the service - which previously had very good reports - at the lowest possible level.

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SNP councillor David Beckett, who represents the city centre ward, added: "I've got great concerns about what has been happening there."

The owners were not available for comment.