COUNTY NEWS:‘We’ll never give up’ say relatives of men injured at Sussex care home

Martyn Lewis and Mark Bates SUS-170814-124202001
Martyn Lewis and Mark Bates SUS-170814-124202001

Two men who have waged a two year campaign for ‘answers’ after two of their relatives suffered injuries while living at a Sussex care home have vowed never to give up.

Gary Lewis, 65, and Matthew Bates, 33, were each found to have suffered broken legs in separate incidents while they were residents at Beech Lodge care home in Guildford Road, Horsham.

The home is run by Sussex Health Care, which also runs a string of other local care homes - two of which are currently at the centre of an investigation by police and West Sussex County Council following ‘serious safeguarding concerns.’

Both Gary and Matthew have cerebral palsy and neither has been able to walk or talk since birth and require constant care.

Gary’s brother Martyn Lewis told this week of the day when he was informed on April 1, 2015 via a telephone call from the manager of Beech Lodge that his brother had been taken to East Surrey Hospital where he was found to have a severely fractured left thigh.

Within hours of discovery of Gary’s injury, fellow Beech Lodge resident Matthew Bates was also discovered to have a severely fractured right thigh.

Both men, who lived in separate wings of Beech Lodge, were operated on at East Surrey and had metal plates and pins inserted in their legs.”Gary’s left leg thigh was completely smashed,” said Martyn.

Mark Bates remains concerned that he was not told about his son Matthew’s injury until the day after it was discovered. He said staff found Matthew hurt at around 6pm on March 31 2015, but an ambulance was not called until the following day - 15 hours later - when the manager came on duty.

And despite strenuous efforts and enquiries, both Martyn and Mark still feel they have not been able to get to the bottom of exactly what happened to Gary and Matthew - both of whom are now being cared for at different homes.

A ‘safeguarding alert’ was raised when the two men were admitted to East Surrey’s A&E unit and inquiries launched. But Martyn and Mark remained concerned and reported the incidents to Sussex Police.

They say that no action was taken and police told them there was a lack of any ‘proof’ of what happened and there had been a change in ‘care’ laws.

And, two years on, Martyn and Mark are still seeking answers and are awaiting the outcome of a ‘safeguarding adults review’ from West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board. “We’re still trying to find out what went on and why,” said Mark.

A spokeswoman for West Sussex County Council said: “West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board is currently undertaking a Safeguarding Adult Review into the two men and is due to report its findings later this year. We await their findings.”

And a police spokesman added: “Sussex Police did carry out an investigation at the time and following a full investigation no criminal charges were brought in relation to their case.

“A serious case review has been commissioned by the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board in relation to these incidents. The review is conducted by an independent author and is currently being compiled and will be published in due course.”

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “Beech Lodge supports people with complex needs, including physical conditions such as osteoporosis, which can make bones very brittle.

‘‘The incidents in 2015 were the subject of comprehensive safeguarding investigations at the time, involving the county and the police, which found no evidence of wrongdoing.

“Following the investigations, in the summer of 2015, the Care Quality Commission carried out a full inspection of the home. They were impressed by the home’s approach to safety, its effectiveness, its caring approach and responsiveness, and gave the home a ‘Good’ overall rating.

“We continue to work openly with the police and the county on the current investigation, and our priority at all times is the wellbeing of all of the people we support. Whilst the investigation remains ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment further.”