Former director at Leas Cross Nursing Home struck off register


THE FORMER director of nursing at Leas Cross Nursing Home in north Dublin, which was closed in 2005 following revelations about patients being mistreated, has been struck off the nurses register.

A statement released by An Bord Altranais yesterday said Gráinne Conway, who was in charge of nursing at the home when the scandal over care at the facility broke, was formally struck off by the High Court order earlier this week.

The private nursing home, in Swords, Co Dublin, was the subject of a Prime Time investigation on RTÉ in 2005. The documentary uncovered substandard living conditions at the home and it was forced to close.

The report of an independent investigation into the home, which was carried out by Diarmuid O’Donovan SC, was published in 2009. It found standards of care at Leas Cross fell below acceptable levels for nearly two years from September 2003 until it closed in August 2005. The decline in standards coincided with a significant increase in the number of frail, high-dependency residents admitted between September 2003 and January 2004, mainly from St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane.

The principal cause of the decline was the failure of the home to employ sufficient competent staff, the report found.

It also severely criticised the Health Service Executive and the former Northern Area Health Board as well as Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital in connection with their handling of concerns raised about the home.

Ms Conway was director of nursing at Leas Cross from June 1999 to March 2005.

Following an eight-day fitness-to-practise inquiry at An Bord Altranais, which regulates the nursing profession, Ms Conway was found guilty of professional misconduct on the basis that she failed to ensure any adequate care was afforded to five residents at the home.

She was also found to have failed to respond adequately or at all to some of the complaints raised about the care of the five patients. She also failed to ensure there was an effective complaints process in place and/or failed to ensure staff were adequately trained in relation to handling complaints.

The fitness-to-practise committee, which meets in private, recommended Ms Conway be struck off the nurses register.

In yesterday’s statement, the nursing board said that, in reaching its findings, the committee had regard to “the serious nature of the systematic failures to provide safe, adequate and appropriate care for residents at Leas Cross Nursing Home”.

Mr Justice Iarlaith O’Neill confirmed the removal of Ms Conway from the register on Monday.

In a statement to The Irish Times last night, a spokeswoman for the nursing board said no other nurses have been disciplined and no other matters in respect of former staff in Leas Cross Nursing Home were before the fitness-to-practise committee.

Asked why it had taken so long to complete the removal of Ms Conway from the register, she said that, while Leas Cross was closed in 2005, Ms Conway’s role as former director of nursing was not in the public domain at that time.