Northern Ireland

Katherine McCall failed to investigate Cherry Tree House abuse claims

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Media captionThe NI health watchdog, the RQIA, is carrying out a review of Cherry Tree House nursing home

A nurse who worked at a County Antrim nursing home has been struck off for failing to investigate allegations of abuse against five residents.

Katherine McCall worked at Cherry Tree House nursing home in Carrickfergus between 2007 and 2011.

She did not appear at a Nursing and Midwifery Council disciplinary hearing.

Last year, in a separate case, a whistleblower told the BBC that she had first made allegations of patient neglect at the home eight years ago.

At the disciplinary hearing in Belfast on Thursday, the panel also found Ms McCall guilty of bringing the nursing profession into disrepute.

As nursing manager at Cherry Tree House, she was asked to investigate allegations of abuse by one member of staff against eight residents at the end of 2010 and the start of the following year.

Health watchdog

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found sufficient evidence that Ms McCall had failed to properly investigate five of those cases.

In a statement issued on behalf of Cherry Tree House, the current manager, Mrs Elizabeth Hewitt, said it was "a sad day for the nursing profession".

She said that in 2010, Ms McCall was reported to the NMC by the owner of Cherry Tree because she did not properly investigate a complaint about a care assistant.

At that time, a new manager was appointed and the care assistant, against whom the allegations of speaking inappropriately to patients was made, was no longer employed at the home.

The new manager addressed concerns and was able to provide satisfactory reassurance to residents and their families, she said.

"We place the utmost importance on the views and opinions of our residents and their families and hence our actions in reporting this matter to the NMC," Mrs Hewitt said.

"We reiterate our apologies to those residents who were involved and for any distress they may have experienced while in our care at that time."

Last November, Health Minister Edwin Poots ordered the health watchdog, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), to carry out a review of Cherry Tree House nursing home.

The minister's action followed BBC revelations that a whistleblower had first made allegations of patient neglect and poor practice at the home in 2005.

The whistleblower's claims are unrelated to Ms McCall's disciplinary case.

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