A bullying senior nurse in a care home for chronic dementia sufferers verbally and physically abused patients for years, it was alleged today.
Vulnerable pensioners were routinely kept short of food and drink, sworn at, pushed and even spat on, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel heard.
Howard Griffiths, 55, was described as a “pig of a man and a bully” today who abused the power and responsibility his position gave him.
Griffiths was night manager at the private Rozelle Nursing Home in Abergavenny, south Wales, which has a compliment of 24 patients.
Based in a large detached house in a leafy residential suburb outside the town centre, care home residents pay up to £1,600 a month.
Shocked junior colleagues who witnessed his alleged behaviour were threatened with the sack when they tried to blow the whistle on him, they claimed today.
Five care assistants who worked under Griffiths will give evidence about his alleged treatment of patients over the three day hearing sitting in Cardiff.
Griffiths, of Wordsworth Close, Ebbw Vale, failed to attend the professional standards panel examining his case.
Panel members decided to go ahead with the hearing after concluding Griffiths had voluntarily chosen to absent himself from proceedings.
They are looking at nine allegations of patient abuse by Griffiths covering a period from early 2007 until the summer of 2009.
The allegations range from calling an elderly dementia sufferer a “slut” to spitting in the face of another and physical abuse.
His alleged misconduct is deemed to have impaired his fitness to practice after more than 30 years as a psychiatric nurse.
Griffiths already has criminal convictions for his behaviour to patients at the care home.
He was found guilty of two counts of willfully ill-treating or neglecting a person who lacked mental capacity in August 2010.
The jury in the UK court also cleared him of eight identical charges linked to named residents at the home after a week-long trial.
He was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order and 50 hours unpaid community work.
The son of one dementia sufferer attended the hearing today in the hope of meeting Griffiths face-to-face.
David Arr, 57, of Worcester, said his mother Eileen Arr, a former Newport sub post mistress who has since died, had been a resident at the care home.
After listening to evidence of patient mistreatment he later admitted one of the unnamed alleged victims had been his defenceless mother.
“It’s sickening to hear. I would never have allowed my mother to go to such a place if I had dreamed she would be treated like that,” he said.
Care assistant Paulette Gough earlier said she had worked up to 30 times with Griffiths on the night shift over a period of several years.
“First impressions of Howard Griffiths was that he was quite a nice, bubbly person,” she said, reading from a statement previously given to the NMC.
“I quickly realised that this appearance was all front and he was a pig of a man and a bully. I think that the power had gone to his head. When he became aggressive I could see the aggression in his face,” she said.
She said one of the dementia patients, referred to only as “A”, was “quite aggressive” and needed to be dealt with patiently.
“She spat at Howard Griffiths on this occasion and instead of ignoring her he spat back right in her face,” she said. “I was completely gobsmacked and couldn’t believe it.”