Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Welsh health board failings.
Background checks were not carried out on scores of staff at a Welsh health board, according to a watchdog.
Care worker, Kris Wade, who was accused by patients of sexual assault and later jailed for life for murdering a neighbour, was not checked and neither were 142 health workers in his old department.
Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) criticised how sex assault claims against Kris Wade from three patients with learning difficulties in 2011 and 2012, were handled.
Wade, who was then 37, later admitted the brutal murder of a neighbour in Cardiff Bay in 2016, while suspended from his job.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABMU) health board, which was criticized over how the investigations took place, has admitted more could still be done and "apologised sincerely" to the female victims "for his abhorrent actions.”
Health minister, Vaughan Gething, has called for urgent advice from health boards about how the rules on background checks could be tightened across Wales.
Wade did not get a criminal record check (CRB) when he was re-deployed to work as a care assistant at the end of 2004, or when disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks were introduced in 2012.
However, police later indicated that no concerns would have been found if Wade had been checked when he started working with vulnerable patients. There were also no concerns about his performance or interaction with patients before the first of three allegations was made.
The HIW found that 142 of the 2,000 staff working in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg's (ABMU) learning disabilities directorate did not have DBS checks or renewed checks although these are now in hand.
ABMU said it had also taken a decision to check all existing staff working with all vulnerable or at-risk patients.
The independent review, ordered by the Welsh Government in 2017, also found an "unacceptable delay" in reporting the first allegation of sex assault and inappropriate touching of a female patient at a unit in Ely, Cardiff, which ABMU ran for Cardiff and Vale Health Board.
Other findings included that when Wade was redeployed from his IT job with ABMU to become a care assistant, he started work before a vacancy form was completed in line with procedures.
The review said that Wade was initially put on "special leave" when the initial allegation was made but should have been suspended earlier.
It also said that the eventual disciplinary process took too long, with the investigator overseeing it alongside her normal job. Meanwhile, staff were not interviewed, which would have given more context.
Although Wade's father was a former clinical director of the learning disabilities directorate, the HIW was satisfied this had no direct influence on the disciplinary process.
The HIW did say there was a potential for conflict of interest and that dealing with the claims should have been led by someone from outside the directorate from the start.
HIW chief executive, Dr Kate Chamberlain, said it was "quite disappointing" that there were people working with vulnerable people who had not had basic checks and that this had to be part of a robust approach to safeguarding patients.
She said: "It's only a basic check and it's important to realise that in this particular incident it would not have highlighted any matters of concern that would have indicated that the individual should not work with vulnerable adults. However, that's not an argument to say that they shouldn't be in place."
She said it was the health board's responsibility to ensure staff were fit and proper but it was "entirely appropriate" for the Welsh Government to look at how they can support them and set out what is expected of them.
ABMU chief executive, Tracy Myhill, said: "My heart goes out to our patients and the family of the victim who was murdered. The report recognises progress and future learning. For me, it's added impetus and to the improvements we're trying to do anyway."
Dr Chamberlain said the main thing to learn was the importance of dealing with allegations promptly.