One hospital is being investigated into accounts of patient neglect, alleging that from 2005 to 2009 several patients were left for hours sitting in their own feces, food and drink was left out of reach and hygiene was so poor that relatives had to clean toilets themselves. Several nurses and aides that worked for Stafford Hospital are in danger of potentially losing their ability to work in healthcare due to the alleged abuse and accounts of personal injury.
Such is the case of Bulgarian-born Bonka Kostova, who is accused of pulling around a dementia patient by his pajamas with his genitals exposed and then called him an ‘animal’.
Ms Kostova, a trained midwife covering as a healthcare assistant, was caring for the 73-year-old man, referred to as patient A, in July 2010.
Her colleague, staff nurse Jane Wilkinson, broke down in tears during a hearing involving the case, as she described Ms Kostova shouting: ‘I hate him, I really hate him. He is like an animal. I can’t bear working with him.’
Mrs Wilkinson, who has been a nurse at the hospital since 1985, said Ms Kostova was hard-working but could sometimes be abrupt with other members of staff, but that it was to do with her Bulgarian accent and demeanor.
However, on this occasion Ms Kostova, who had qualified as a midwife in her home country, was ‘losing it’, Mrs Wilkinson said.
‘She just seemed to be out of control with what she was saying.
‘I have been a nurse for a long time and I have never witnessed anybody saying anything like that at all and she did appear to be almost losing it, really.’
Ms Kostova, who was employed by the hospital between April 2009 and September 2010, was not present at the hearing in central London.
It is understood she hasn’t formally admitted or denied any of the charges she faces.
The tribunal heard that the patient had been in the hospital just over a month receiving treatment for kidney stones when the incident took place just after 3am on July 22, 2010.
He was said to be aggressive in his speech or manner around 80% of the time and usually had a one-to-one caregiver looking after him who would sometimes need the assistance of another if the patient became particularly difficult.
On this occasion, that caregiver went for a break, leaving Ms Kostova in charge.
At today’s tribunal, Mrs Wilkinson said Ms Kostova, known by colleagues as ‘Bonnie’, would often ‘huff and puff when talking with patients with dementia’. ‘I believe this was due to her nationality,’ she said.
But Mrs Wilkinson added that she never saw her being rude to patients, and would only be ‘abrupt’ with other members of staff, and would always carry out her duties.
While Ms Kostova had received general training in looking after vulnerable adults, she had not received specific training for dementia patients, ward manager Sharon Matthews told the tribunal.
Alison Jepson, the hospital’s matron of medicine, interviewed Ms Kostova after the incident and said the caregiver denied pushing and dragging the patient around, saying she was guiding him.
Ms Kostova said she noticed the patient was straining for the restroom as he was walking around the ward and so she guided him into the toilet.
‘He walked outside (the toilet) without any pants or trousers at all so I needed to sort him out to protect his dignity’, Ms Kostova said to Ms Jepson. ‘I didn’t pull him.’
Ms Kostova also said it would have been difficult for her to manhandle him because he was much taller and bigger than her, but she did admit shouting at him.
Ms Kostova was suspended after the incident and has not worked at the hospital since.
For more information on nursing home abuse and personal injury please visit www.sadakafirm.com.