Fall pensioner ‘left on floor as nurse prayed’

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An elderly woman who fell out of bed was left on the floor at a care home for up to 10 minutes because a nurse was praying, an inquest heard.

Alzheimer’s sufferer Dorothy Griffiths, 87, was found sitting down after staff heard a bang.

A carer went to the office for help in lifting her but agency nurse Abdul Bhutto, who was in charge, said they would have to wait.

Carer Zoe Shaw told the Sheffield hearing: “It took between five and 10 minutes because he was praying upstairs in the office on his prayer mat. A staff member told me we had to wait for him to finish.”

The hearing was told an ambulance was not called for nearly four hours after former pub landlady Mrs Griffiths fell from bed and hit her head and grazed her hip at the privately-run Valley Park Nursing Home in Wombwell, near Barnsley. She died 10 days later in hospital, on November 3 last year.

Mrs Griffiths, the widow of former Barnsley footballer Steve Griffiths, who used to live in Wombwell, had been a resident at the home since 2009.

She was put to bed at 9.45pm on October 24 and checked every two hours, according to Mrs Shaw.

The old lady was using the toilet at 4am and Mrs Shaw went to an office to fill in paperwork. She said Mrs Griffiths was not prone to falls and was not considered “at risk”.

After she and another carer found her on the floor, Mrs Shaw went to get help from Mr Bhutto, who was the most senior nurse on night duty at the home, run by the Mimosa Healthcare Group, because the senior carer was unable to work having been on duty for six of the previous seven nights.

When Mr Bhutto arrived he checked the pensioner’s limbs, took her blood pressure and pulse on the floor and told the carers to put her back into bed.

But instead Mrs Shaw, worried she might fall again, washed the old lady, dressed her and took her to the office while she carried on filling forms.

At about 5.45am she took her to the lounge and said she was “talking fine” and walking around. But at breakfast-time when the residents were being offered a cup of tea Mrs Griffiths was found unresponsive and an ambulance was called at about 7.30am.

Mrs Shaw, who broke down in the witness box, said she would have called an ambulance immediately after the fall but had only since discovered staff could override a nurse’s decision.

Mr Bhutto failed to appear at the inquest and a summons had to be issued for him to attend the hearing, which was adjourned to later in the year.

Assistant deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood said he had contacted him during a recess and he denied being the duty nurse that night and said he had been there on a course.

After the inquest was adjourned, Mrs Griffith’s daughter, Jean David, 61, said: “We were told at the time by the manager that she had fallen out of bed, was seen by the nurse and was put back in bed. The inquest came as a revelation.

“My mother fell out of bed at 4am so why were the emergency services not called until 8pm? It could have made all the difference.

“This has all come out of the blue. When the carer told the inquest the nurse said he could not attend because he was praying I was absolutely flabbergasted. My brother went white and we were both in shock.”

She added: “My mother always said she was happy in the home and being treated very well. I thought everything was hunky dory until this happened.”

Mimosa declined to comment until after the inquest is concluded.