Scandal of Cawston Park patient deaths to be raised in Parliament

Cawston Park

Joanna Bailey and Ben King (inset) were among three patients who died while in the care of Cawston Park. - Credit: The Bailey Family/Ben King's Family/Archant

The scandal surrounding the deaths of three vulnerable people with learning disabilities at a private hospital in Norfolk is to be raised in the House of Commons.

Ben King, 32, Nicholas Briant, 33, and Joanna Bailey, 36, died within just over two years of each other, while they were patients at Cawston Park Hospital, near Aylsham.

Cawston Park Hospital from above.

Cawston Park hospital closed earlier this year. - Credit: Mike Page

A recently published report found failures of governance, commissioning, oversight, planning for individuals and professional practice at the hospital, which was run by Jeesal Group and closed earlier this year.

That report, commissioned by Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board, made 13 recommendations, while its author Margaret Flynn called on the government to end the country's reliance on hospitals driven by profit.

Margaret Flynn

Margaret Flynn, who led the serious case review. - Credit: Margaret Flynn

Dr Flynn warned: "Unless this hospital and similar units cease to receive public money, such lethal outcomes will persist."

And Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew, who has said there must be genuine change following the deaths, has secured an adjournment debate on Cawston Park in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Jerome Mayhew

Jerome Mayhew, Broadland MP. - Credit: UK Parliament

Such debates give backbenchers the opportunity to raise issues with ministers and Mr Mayhew said he wanted to put the case under the national spotlight.

He said: "We need to recognise what's happened and doing this before the House gives us a chance to reflect on the impact this has had on real families."

Mr Mayhew also wants to explore what avenues of prosecution could be open and whether the law needs to be changed.

Norfolk police are re-examining their investigation into the circumstances around the death of Mrs Bailey, from Romford, who died at Cawston Park in April 2018.

Joanna Bailey from Collier Row, Romford

Joanna Bailey. - Credit: The Bailey family

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An inquest found she died of natural causes - sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Police had investigated why CPR had not been administered before emergency services arrived, although the Crown Prosecution Service had not proceeded after the file was submitted.

Police are also investigating allegations of ill treatment of Mr King, from Aylsham, who died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in July 2019.

Ben King, died at Cawston Park Hospital on July 29 2020

Ben King. - Credit: Supplied courtesy of Ben King's family

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded Mr King “died due to inadequate weight management and failure to diagnose obesity hypoventilation syndrome and inadequate consideration of the use of promethazine".

But police are also investigating allegations he was struck by a member of staff on the day he died.

Nicholas Briant, from London, died on October 31, 2019, after swallowing a piece of plastic cup. An inquest ruled his death was misadventure.

Jeesal Group has apologised and said care fell "far below" expected standards.

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