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Case relating to treatment and care of severely learning disabled woman proceeds

A case relating to the care of a woman with severe learning disabilities has been served today

Damaged doll belonging to Susan

22 December 2014

Walsall Healthcare NHT Trust has today been served with Court papers alleging poor care of a woman with severe learning disabilities, and the wilful destruction of her doll, which she considered was her own baby. It is also alleged that the woman was treated with contempt by nursing staff. 

Susan Hearsey’s family are bringing the case under the Human Rights Act and it relates to time that Susan spent on Ward 14 of the Manor Hospital in Walsall in September 2013. 

The court will hear allegations from Susan’s family that the care Susan received on Ward 14 was inadequate.

Susan’s family, and in particular her two sisters, were regular visitors to Ward 14, describe nursing staff as being distracted by their mobile phones and allege that they failed to make any reasonable adjustments to account for Susan’s learning disabilities when they communicated with her, including leaving meal forms for her to complete and talking to her in a way she could not understand.

Susan’s family further allege that nursing staff at Walsall Hospital deliberately damaged a life-like doll that Susan loved and cared for as if it were her own child, which had left Susan very distressed and shattered her trust and confidence in those caring for her. 

The doll, which was very life like, was fine when family members left at the end of visiting times; yet was later found to have had its arm severed, legs broken and was missing clumps of hair. Susan was distraught by the damage and recounted what had happened, however it took the Trust some four months to acknowledge the damage had been done deliberately as Susan had always said.

Following her stay on Ward 14 Susan transferred to a care home where she remains traumatised by the treatment she received at Walsall Manor Hospital. 

Human rights solicitor Merry Varney who is representing Susan said:

“This is one of the saddest cases I have been involved in. For Susan, the destruction of her doll was akin to seeing her own baby wilfully hurt and unsurprisingly the impact on her has been devastating. 

“No patient deserves to be treated like this and patients with learning difficulties have as much right as any other person to be treated with dignity and to receive the appropriate standard of nursing care.

“I hope that this case will force the Trust to carry out an independent investigation capable of identifying who was involved, and then to take action against the staff concerned. More widely, lessons must be learnt about how to care for a patient with learning disabilities so they receive the same standard of care as other patients.”

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