Blaenau Gwent MP: Care home inquiry details 'must be told'

Dr Prana Das Dr Prana Das was left brain damaged after a violent burglary at his home

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The full story of alleged neglect and fraud at care homes in south Wales, which prompted a major police inquiry, "needs to be told", an MP has said.

Care home owner Dr Prana Das faced charges after the £11.6m inquiry but is likely to avoid court after suffering brain damage in a violent burglary.

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has written to the director of public prosecutions to ask him to look into the seven year police operation.

He said lessons needed to be learned.

He said he had been briefed by the police about the case and he was shocked by what he heard had happened to the 103 alleged victims, 63 of whom have since died.

Dr Das, 66, faced charges relating to neglect and fraud at two care homes - Brithdir Care Home in New Tredegar, near Bargoed, and The Beeches in Blaenavon.

Start Quote

I think Operation Jasmine's collapse is no justice for the families here”

End Quote Nick Smith Blaenau Gwent MP

But a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told the case will probably not go to court after Dr Das was badly injured in the attack at his home last year.

The charges will lie on file, although proceedings could restart against Dr Das if his condition ever improves.

The police operation, which started in 2005, involved 75 police staff, and 4,126 statements were taken.

Mr Smith, whose constituency housed one of the care homes, said he believes the full "harrowing" details of the case should be told so that lessons can be learned.

He has written to the director of public prosecutions asking him to review the police inquiry - Operation Jasmine - and wants answers about why the investigation took so long.

He is also holding a parliamentary debate on the case next Wednesday.

"I think Operation Jasmine's collapse is no justice for the families here," he said.

"Now this case has been left on the table I want to get the full story out so people can understand exactly what happened."

Public inquiry
Nick Smith MP Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith says lessons need to be learned from the case

Wayne David, the MP for neighbouring Caerphilly where the other care home was, has also called for a public inquiry into care homes in Wales.

He said it had previously been discussed when he was a Wales Office minister but was not pursued at that time because it could have interfered with the legal case.

But Lorraine Morgan the chair of My Homelife Cymru, which aims to improve the quality of life of those living, visiting and working in care homes, said she did not believe a public inquiry was necessary.

She said a residential care home review had been led by the Welsh government, and minister would be looking into the way inspections are carried out later this year. An advocacy report had also been published by the older people's commissioner.

"I have seen wonderful care," she said, adding that members of the public did not often hear about the good residential homes.

Inquiry

Operation Jasmine was a major Home Office funded inquiry into six care homes in south Wales. It was established in October 2005 after Gladys Thomas, 84, a patient at Bryngwyn Mountleigh nursing home in Newbridge, was admitted to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital after being given incorrect doses of medication. She later died.

A nurse at the home admitted neglect on the basis of not administering the correct medication.

Eight carers and nurses were charged with wilful neglect relating to injuries on her body but the prosecution dropped the case three weeks into the trial in 2008.

Following the inquiry, Puretruce Health Care, of which Dr Das was a director, was charged with two counts of failure to discharge a duty to ensure residents at Brithdir Care Home were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

The doctor was charged with two counts of consenting or conniving to a failure to discharge a duty as a director at Puretruce, these failures being attributable to neglect.

He was also accused of theft relating to three cheques totalling £23,080.65 due to Woodstock Limited for work carried out and four counts of false accounting totalling £314,656.65.

His co-accused, Paul Black, of Upton St Leonards, Gloucester, will also not stand trial because it was deemed inappropriate to try him alone.

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