‘Heartless’ nurse facing jail after neglecting woman, 87, who died in her care

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A ‘heartless’ nurse who wilfully neglected a dying pensioner when she failed to call an ambulance has been found guilty.

Catalina Ferchiu failed to seek medical attention for 87-year-old stroke victim Rachel Smith before colleagues found her “lifeless” in bed.

The Romanian-born nurse had been responsible for looking after the pensioner overnight at Overslade House Care Home, in Rugby, Warks.

When staff took over in the morning of February 2, 2018, they found Mrs Smith “looking grey” and with a large bruise on her shoulder.

They immediately called an ambulance and Mrs Smith was rushed to hospital but she died three weeks later on February 23.

On Tuesday, 54-year-old Ferchiu became the first person in Warwickshire to be convicted of wilful neglect following a trial at Warwick Crown Court.

Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said Mrs Smith had been a resident at the care home since suffering a stroke in October 2016.

He said although she was paralysed down the right side of her body and had limited ability to communicate, she still retained “full mental ability.”

On the night of February 1, Ferchiu, an experienced nurse who had worked at the care home for 13 years, was the senior nurse on duty.

Mr Grieves-Smith said: “She knew all about her frailties and the treatment she required.

“At about 7.30 in the morning on February 2 Catalina Ferchiu finished her shift and told those who took over that Rachel Smith had been sick during the night and had a bruise.

“They went to her room and found her in a very poor condition.

“There was a large bruise to her shoulder, and her face was grey. ‘She looked like death, lifeless,’ was the view of one of the nurses.”

Ferchiu, who had the help of a Romanian interpreter in court, told police she visited Mrs Smith’s room at 4am and saw she had vomited, so cleaned her up and saw the bruise.

She said she was concerned about Mrs Smith’s health, and that the vomiting was “a worry” and said the bruise also troubled her.

Mr Grieves-Smith added: “She claimed she checked on Rachel Smith after four o’clock, but on her account that amounted to nothing more than standing close to the door of room six and looking across at the bed where Rachel Smith was asleep.”

Police staff investigator Marcella Forrest said: “This case centred around a heartless nurse whose deliberate actions led to the unnecessary suffering of a lady requiring care and support.

“People often rely on medical staff at the most vulnerable times in their lives and they expect to be treated with compassion and respect.

“Ferchiu fell well below these standards; this wasn’t just a case of poor care, it was deliberate, criminal neglect.

“I would like to pay tribute to Mrs Smith’s family who have fully supported our investigation and acted with integrity throughout.

“This has been especially traumatic for them and I hope they can take some comfort from today’s verdict.”

Following the verdict, Mrs Smith’s family said in a joint statement: “Our elderly mother Rachael Smith (nee White) suffered a stroke in October 2015.

“She lost the ability to speak, communicate, and was totally dependent on others.

“As a result of her ill health and the support that she required she was admitted into a
home.

“We trusted our extremely vulnerable mother would receive quality care.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the case, as it sets a precedent for other vulnerable and disabled individuals in similar situations.

“The last two years has been an extremely difficult time for the family.

“The pain and distress that our mother would have suffered during her time in the home has been at the forefront of our minds.”

Ferchiu, of Rugby, Warks., will be sentenced on Monday, November 2.