Devon

Plymouth nurse's misconduct over Ruth Mitchell death

Ruth Mitchell Image copyright Russell Mitchell
Image caption Ruth Mitchell died from complications relating to malnutrition

A mental health nurse has been found guilty of two charges relating to the death of a malnourished psychiatric patient.

But the Nursing and Midwifery Council ruled there would be no sanctions against Joanne Campbell over the care of Ruth Mitchell, who died in 2012.

The nurse faced eight charges relating to Ms Mitchell, who was found dead on her "squalid" Plymouth flat's floor.

Ms Mitchell's father Russell said he would appeal against the ruling.

Ms Mitchell, 40, was found dead while under the care of Plymouth Community Healthcare (PCH), now Livewell Southwest.

After becoming increasingly isolated from 2007, Ms Mitchell died in September 2012 of complications relating to malnutrition.

The NMC said the facts were proved on two charges against Ms Campbell, one relating to record keeping and a second of not escalating safeguarding concerns, which amounted to misconduct.

They did not uphold charges relating to dishonesty or that a mental capacity assessment should have been carried out.

'Very disappointed'

Mr Mitchell said: "We were very disappointed that there was no sanction imposed especially after the facts were proved on two serious incidents, which provided unwarranted risk to Ruth.

"I am taking official advice on how to appeal."

A Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report ordered Livewell Southwest to pay Ms Mitchell's family £7,500 earlier this month.

It was found she had been living in "squalid and impoverished conditions" with no furniture, curtains or floor coverings.

"Opportunities to prevent her deterioration and death were completely lost," the report said.

Image copyright Russell Mitchell
Image caption Ms Mitchell was living in a bare flat

The Health Service Ombudsman report said Plymouth Community Healthcare had not formally acknowledged the following failings in Ms Mitchell's care:

  • Failure to adequately reassess her care plan in light of her increasing self-neglect
  • A nurse's failure to take adequate action after a home visit in 2010
  • Failure to carry out a capacity assessment in 2011
  • Failure to review the patient's financial circumstances
  • Failure to obtain a second opinion
  • Failure to produce an action plan as a result of the complaint investigation

A spokeswoman from Livewell Southwest said: "We have worked alongside the ombudsman and Ruth's family in the investigation into the tragic circumstances of Ruth's death and our thoughts remain with everyone involved.

"We support the findings of the Nursing and Midwifery Council that the registered nurse who provided care to Ruth Mitchell is a 'competent nurse who can practise without restriction'.

"We are totally committed to ensuring that the ombudsman's recommendations are fully implemented and to improving support for people who are vulnerable to self-neglect, in partnership with other agencies in Plymouth."

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