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Nineteen deaths at failing care home in Copthorne investigated
An investigation has been launched into the deaths of 19 vulnerable pensioners at a failing care home.
A three-week inquest in for September will look into the unexplained deaths at Orchid View.
A pre-inquest review yesterday was told the coroner will look into whether one 77-year-old woman was given three times the prescribed amount of a blood thinning drug before her death.
Jean Halfpenny died in May 2010.
The family’s solicitor indicated he would also argue staff “shredded” prescription evidence in the aftermath of her death.
Sussex Police launched an investigation into alleged criminal neglect at the home in 2011.
Staff members were arrestedand questioned before the case was dropped due to “insufficient evidence”.
The care home in Copthorne, near Crawley, was shut that year after the regulatory Care Quality Commission found it to be failing to meet eight “essential standards of quality”.
It has since reopened under a new name and management.
The inquest, which will be held at County Hall North, Horsham, will look into the deaths of Jean Halfpenny and 18 others.
They include husband and wife Percy Bates, 95, and Ellen Alice Bates, 93, from Balcombe, who died just days apart.
It will also investigate the deaths of Maisie Martin, 91, Maureen Donaghey, 93, Doris Fielding, 89, Margaret Tucker, 77, John Holmes, 94 and Enid Trodden, 94.
The names of ten others will be confirmed in the coming days following an application to the secretary of state.
The inquest, which is due to run for three weeks, will see at least 40 witnesses take the stand.
They will include nursing home staff, Sussex Police officers, Care Quality Commission managers and family members.
Coroner Penelope Schofield told assembled family members at the prehearing the inquest would “take priority” and be “thorough”.
A representative from Sussex Police indicated two of the former nursing home staff members had since served time in prison for unrelatedmatters. He added one was still behind bars.
Lawyer Ian Christian of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who is representing Ms Halfpenny’s daughters at the inquest, said: “This has been a very difficult time for the family.
“They have understandably been devastated by their loss and the criminal investigation that took place after Jean’s death.
“They would like to take this opportunity to thank the coroner for taking the time to investigate any potential failings at Orchid View that have led to their loss and hope it will lead to the many questions they have about Jean’s death being answered.
“We will continue to work with the family as they come to terms with this tragedy.”
Afurther pre-inquest reviewis set for August 29 before the inquest begins on September 10.
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