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Nurse acquitted of ill-treating elderly patient in hospital

18 May 2023 2 minute read
Withybush Hospital. Photo by ceridwen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A nurse has been found not guilty of ill-treating an elderly patient as he lay in a hospital bed at Withybush Hospital.

Primrose James, 51, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, had been accused of ill-treating Dennis Warlow, 80, by slapping him at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Wales, on May 21 2022.

It was alleged that Ms James assaulted Mr Warlow while helping him with his personal care after he hit out at her and another staff member.

Ms James told Swansea Crown Court, where she was on trial for two days, that she had put her hand up to block Mr Warlow and had been acting in self-defence.

The jury found Ms James not guilty of the charge against her following more than three hours of deliberations on Thursday.

Judge Huw Rees told the nurse: “That’s the end of the matter, you are discharged and you leave this court with your good character untarnished.”

He thanked the members of the jury for their work in the case, which he described as “important”.


Mr Warlow, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was a patient on the hospital’s orthopaedic ward after fracturing his hip and was said to be at times disruptive and violent.

During a nightshift on May 31, Ms James and healthcare assistant Holly English worked together to change his bed linen.

Ms English described how Ms James slapped the patient multiple times to the left side of his face and poked him in the forehead after he hit out at both of them.

She alleged that Ms James told Mr Warlow, who had been assessed as lacking capacity, that he was a “horrible, horrible man”.

Ms English reported the incident to leading ward nurse Christine Schofield, who told ward sister Nicola Jones, and an investigation was launched.

Ms James, who has been a nurse for 16 years, attended a police interview and was later charged with ill-treating a person who lacks capacity.

Giving evidence at her trial, Ms James insisted she had not hit or assaulted Mr Warlow and told the jury: “I did not ill-treat him.”

She said she had tapped the elderly man on the arm without force and told him not to hit them.

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