Triple killer Valdo Calocane was a patient at the scandal-hit hospital where more than 30 staff have been suspended for mistreating patients and falsifying records, it has emerged.
They have been suspended over allegations of “serious conduct” at Highbury Hospital in Nottinghamshire, emails leaked to The Independent show.
Calocane was convicted this week of brutally stabbing and killing students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65.
It has emerged he was a patient at the hospital and under the case of Nottinghamshire’s crisis teams. NHS England is set to carry out an independent mental health homicide review which will probe any failings by the NHS trust.
Calocane, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was a patient at Highbury in June 2022 and was admitted again in 2022. During periods when he was discharged, the killer was officially under the care of Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.
Despite being advised to take anti-psychotic medication for a minimum of six to nine months he was admitted to hospital after he stopped taking it.
The court heard the anti-psychotic medication was “restarted and increased”, and in August 2021 Calocane was believed to have actively concealed symptoms of psychosis during a home visit by a mental health worker.
He then evaded contact with the community team, and a warrant under the Mental Health Act was secured to gain entry to his property so an assessment could be conducted. Eight months of unused medication was found at his property.
At the end of January 2022, Calocane was again admitted as an inpatient under the Mental Health Act, being discharged on February 24.
He was then reviewed in March 2022 in an outpatient clinic and in July 2022 claimed, it is believed falsely, that he was not in the country.
The suspended employees at Highbury Hospital include registered professionals – a category that includes doctors, nurses and nursing associates – and non-registered healthcare professionals, which covers healthcare assistants and non-clinical staff.
The shocking revelations come just a week after the same trust was issued with a warning by the safety watchdog over concerns about the safety of patients at Rampton Hospital, a high-security institution whose former patients include Charles Bronson and Ian Huntley.
In an email leaked to The Independent, the trust told Highbury staff in December: “We are saddened to report that over recent weeks it has been necessary to suspend over 30 colleagues due to very serious conduct allegations.
“These allegations have included falsifying mental health observations, as well as maltreatment of patients in our care.
“We hope we have your understanding in taking action when the conduct of colleagues falls so far outside of what patients deserve.”
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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told The Independent that it was alerted to an internal investigation at Highbury Hospital at the end of November.
The safety watchdog said it carried out a pre-planned inspection of the hospital in early December, but cannot confirm whether any further action is being taken against the hospital until the inspection report is published.
The trust declined to say whether it is investigating any patient deaths or instances of harm in relation to the staff suspensions. It also refused to reveal whether it has informed the police or professional regulators about the alleged incidents.
A trust spokesperson said: “Nottinghamshire Healthcare is committed to ensuring we provide the very best and safest care we possibly can for our patients. We take any allegations against members of staff very seriously. Where there is an allegation that staff conduct has fallen below what we would expect for our patients, we will investigate fully and fairly and sometimes it is necessary to suspend staff members to enable this.
“Unfortunately, over recent weeks it has been necessary to suspend over 30 colleagues across the organisation whilst investigations take place. As investigations into these allegations are ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
Local NHS commissioners, who are responsible for overseeing Nottinghamshire Healthcare, said they were aware of the suspensions and allegations but could not comment further while investigations were still underway.