A manager at a “medically unsafe” Adelaide mental health facility has had his licence to practise revoked almost six years after an investigation found damning evidence of patient neglect.
Kerim Frederick Skelton failed to adequately supervise and manage staff for the care of vulnerable, elderly people who were, in many cases, suffering from significant disabilities or other medical conditions, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found after an investigation by health regulator AHPRA.
Skelton, who was nursing director of the Older Persons Mental Health Facility in Oakden between 2010 to 2016, had his nursing registration cancelled and was disqualified from applying again for 12 years.
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“These vulnerable residents put their trust in nurses, managers and facilities to care for them when they need it most and it’s important that this trust is upheld,” Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia chair Veronica Casey said.
“A disqualification as long as this highlights the severity of what went on at Oakden and sends a strong message to those in the industry that we must maintain safe and supportive work environments at all levels.”
The facility was closed in 2017 after a scathing review by South Australia’s chief psychiatrist uncovered rough handling of patients, an excessive use of restraints and a concerning level of injuries among its residents.
In 2018, the South Australian corruption watchdog released a report into Oakden, which found its residents suffered neglect due to a shortage of staff that rendered the facility “medically unsafe”.
The then-Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander described Oakden as a disgrace and declared the affair a “shameful chapter in the state’s history”.
Skelton is the second manager at the facility to be disqualified from nursing in two months after Julie Harrison, who held various management roles at Oakden, was handed a 10-year ban from applying for registration in December.
The tribunal found Skelton neglected to address the failings under his watch or take adequate steps to prevent the excessive and inappropriate use of restraints by staff.
Skelton co-operated with the hearing and expressed contrition and remorse for his role in the Oakden affair, the tribunal said.
He acknowledged that “his failings were significant and warrant a clear message being sent to him and other nurses that such failings cannot be allowed to happen again”.
AHPRA chief executive Martin Fletcher said the “shameful failures” at Oakden must never be repeated.