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Nurse misconduct hearing set to re-open over death of Plymouth woman

The father of a woman who died while under the care of Plymouth Community Healthcare will next week again attend a re-opened hearing at the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) in London to hear misconduct charges against one of his daughter’s former nurses.

Former retired police officer, Russ Mitchell, aged 68, will attend the five-day hearing starting Monday 14th March at the NMC, 61 Aldwych, London WC2B 4AE. He will hear charges against Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) Joanne Campbell in relation to the care of his daughter, Ruth Mitchell. An earlier hearing in January this year ran out of time.

Mother of one Ruth Mitchell died on 2 September 2012, aged 40, while under outpatient psychiatric care of Plymouth Community Healthcare. At the time of her death Ruth lived alone in Plymouth and died as a result of complications related to malnourishment.

Eight charges are being heard against CPN Campbell which include that whilst employed as a registered psychiatric nurse by Plymouth Community Healthcare she failed to attend the requisite number of outpatient appointments with Ms Mitchell, failed to maintain adequate records and to escalate safeguarding concerns on three separate occasions.

She is also charged with failing to communicate with Ms Mitchell’s parents, as per an earlier agreement, and by doing so was dishonest in attempting to give the impression to Ms Mitchell’s parents that she was accompanying their daughter to outpatient appointments.

Dawn Treloar, solicitor at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen who is representing Ms Mitchell’s son, says: “Mr Mitchell has fought hard for a long time to get these charges heard. He feels very strongly that his daughter’s demise was avoidable and that individual failings need to be addressed, so that the well-being and safety of other vulnerable patients being managed in the community is not compromised by substandard care provision.”

On 8 May 2008, following an agreement with Ruth Mitchell, CPN Campbell informed Ms Mitchell’s parents that: “It will be possible to periodically provide you with confirmation of your daughter’s attendance at given appointments with related healthcare professionals to give you some reassurance.”

At the inquest into Ruth Mitchell’s death, CPN Campbell admitted that contrary to her witness statement to the coroner in which she stated that she had attended outpatient appointments with Ms Mitchell, she had in fact not attended the majority of the appointments and had never once contacted Ms Mitchell’s parents.

Last week the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman confirmed it was partly upholding a complaint made by Mr & Mrs Mitchell about Plymouth Community Healthcare in relation to their daughter’s care, identifying some failures.


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