Orchid View Hotel whistleblower 'penalised for truth'

Wilfred Gardner, Margaret Tucker, Jean Leatherbarrow, Jean Halfpenny, Enid Trodden, Bertram Jerome and Doris Fielding Image copyright other
Image caption An inquest found all 19 people who died received "suboptimal" care and five cases involved neglect

A whistleblower who raised the alarm about the deaths of 19 care home residents says people who speak out need much better legal protection.

Lisa Martin lost her administration manager job at Orchid View, in Copthorne, West Sussex, after raising concerns in 2011.

An inquest into the deaths found neglect contributed to five of them.

Ms Martin said she had been unable to work in the care industry since and has called for compensation.

"I didn't work for nearly two years and that's really difficult," she said.

"I was penalised for telling the truth and I nearly lost my home. That's really morally wrong.

"There needs more protection for us, somebody who is there to support us... Somebody who can talk you through this and be by your side.

"It's something I would never ever do again."

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Image caption Orchid View closed and reopened with a new name and new management

In 2013, coroner Penelope Schofield, said there had been "institutionalised abuse" at Orchid View.

The home closed in 2011 and reopened under a new name with new management.

A serious case review, commissioned by the West Sussex Adults Safeguarding Board, made 34 recommendations about West Sussex care homes.

These included that care operators must prove they can recruit and keep trained and skilled staff, and that relatives should always have a named point of contact.

West Sussex County Council said Orchid View was not its service but a private business.

A spokeswoman said: "We are the safeguarding authority and so relatives and others who may have concerns about vulnerable people in the care of a care home can contact us.

"They can do so in confidence. All complaints will be investigated."

A spokesman for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it "takes great courage to be a whistleblower" and staff need to know they will "not suffer" as a result.

"No-one should feel prevented from raising concerns about the quality and safety of care," he said.

"If staff working within these services would like to raise any concerns and do not feel that they can raise them internally, they can contact CQC in confidence.

"We act on all information we receive."

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