David Fuller Phase 1 Inquiry Report published – failures of management and failures to follow standard policies and procedures
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More than two years after the Independent Inquiry into the issues raised by the David Fuller case was announced, the Phase 1 Report on Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has been published.
The inquiry was launched to investigate events that led to David Fuller being able to commit his horrible acts and has indeed identified serious failings in management and failures to follow standard policies and procedures.
The inquiry is being conducted in two phases. The first phase, that is the basis of this report, looks at what happened in the Kent hospitals and how David Fuller was able to get away with his crimes for so long. The second phase will be looking at the broader national picture and wider implications for the NHS.
Phase 1 report
The Inquiry heard from a number of family members whose loved ones had been abused by David Fuller and the report describes the impact these crimes have had on them as well as their concerns about how he was allowed to commit these crimes.
The Inquiry also spoke to David Fuller who described some of the circumstances that allowed him to commit offences.
The Report identified some serious failures and highlighted that the senior management of the Trust were aware of problems in the running of the mortuary from as early as 2008. However, there was little evidence that effective action was taken to address any of these problems. In addition, there was little consideration given to why David Fuller was accessing the mortuary so frequently; one year he visited the mortuary 444 times a year. Evidence was given to the Inquiry that showed mortuary staff were mostly unsupervised and frequently did not follow policies and standard operating procedures.
The Report goes on to look at the protocols and policies that were in place over time and identified 17 recommendations with the aim of preventing similar atrocities in the future.
A number of these recommendations focused on ensuring that the Trust made sure that such protocols and policies are being met, identifying that in the past they had not been. For example, there were reported practices of leaving deceased bodies out of the mortuary fridges overnight. David Fuller told the inquiry that he took advantage of such circumstances.
Another recommendation was that the mortuary and post-mortem room must have CCTV cameras whose footage must be reviewed regularly, alongside records of who is accessing the mortuary and how often.
Sir Johnathan Michael (the Chair of the Inquiry) has said that if the measures recommended on the Report had been in place, David Fuller could have been prevented.
Whilst a number of the recommendations have been actioned or are in the process of being actioned, the Trust have said that they will be implementing the remaining as quickly as possible.
Gary Walker, Managing Associate at Enable Law, is representing a number of families whose loved ones were abused by David Fuller. Gary welcomes the Report’s findings and says “the findings of this Report are deeply worrying and show the level of serious failures at both management and individual levels across the Trust which allowed David Fuller to commit such atrocious crimes. While hopefully lessons will be learnt and the recommendations will be fully implemented, it will not take away from the trauma caused to the victims and their families.”
The Trust has recently re-opened their compensation scheme enabling any family members who have not already done so, to apply.
If you or a loved one have been affected by what happened in this hospital and would like to understand your legal rights, contact our team. We are experienced supporting people whose lives have been changed by abuse and can help you get compensation and answers. All conversations are completely confidential and on the first instance free of charge. Call us on 0800 044 8488 or speak to Gary Walker directly on 03303 116772.