TWO care assistants face a jail sentence after they were caught on hidden CCTV cameras verbally abusing and slapping a patient with severe brain damage at a specialist hospital in Bury.

Rita Page, aged 68, of Palatine Drive, Bury, and 33-year-old Lynette Crook, of Victoria Street, Ramsbottom, pleaded guilty to five counts of ill treatment of a person who lacks capacity, at Bolton Crown Court on Monday.

The mistreatment occurred between August 28 and September 19, 2012, at The Priory Highbank Centre in Walmersley Road, where Page and Crook were healthcare assistants.

Both women have since been dismissed for gross misconduct from the centre, which specialises in acquired brain injury and neurological rehabilitation.

Page pleaded guilty to slapping the man on his leg and using abusive language towards him.
Crook admitted slapping the patient’s leg, using abusive language and jabbing him in the head and body with a pen.

Seven other allegations of using abusive language, pushing the man’s head and slapping his leg were ordered to lie on file by Judge Timothy Clayson.

The court heard how during one incident, Page and Crook put a pillow between the man’s legs while he was being treated before slapping him on the leg and calling him an offensive term.

Michael Lavery, prosecuting, described how on September 19 Crook slapped the young man on the leg when she was about to give him a blood pressure test.

The case was adjourned until May 2 for pre-sentence reports, but Judge Clayson said: “When you return, you can both expect to face a prison sentence.”

The victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - suffered severe internal injuries as a teenager when he was involved in a car crash in April 2008 and cannot move, speak or feed himself independently.

His family discovered his ill treatment after becoming suspicious and secretly installing surveillance cameras in his room, the footage from which they handed over to the police.

After the hearing, the man’s uncle said: “When we found out what was going on it was awful.

We are happy with the outcome as a family and that they have been found out as the type of human beings they are.

“We told various bodies time and time again what was happening but they did not listen. Nobody listened.”

The patient’s father added: “It is good that finally someone did listen.

“The result is a relief and gives us an opportunity to now move forward.”

A spokeswoman for Priory Highbank Hospital apologised for the “unacceptable actions” of Crook and Page.

She added: “Everyone at The Priory Group deeply regrets the unacceptable actions of these two members of staff, both of whom had over 10 years service and previously unblemished records.

“We will not tolerate behaviour of this nature and both healthcare assistants have been dismissed for gross misconduct.

“This was an isolated incident and does not represent the high standards at this otherwise excellent hospital.

“The most recent unannounced Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of the hospital is solid evidence it is providing a safe, caring and effective service to its patients. The Priory Group has issued an unreserved apology.”

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC’s Regional Director for the North, said the case was “shocking”.

He added: “Our thoughts are with the victim of this dreadful abuse, and their family.

“Our most recent inspection in February 2014 found the home to be meeting the national standards reviewed.

“However, we continue to monitor the position carefully and will not hesitate take any regulatory action necessary to ensure residents receive the service they are entitled to expect.”