Whipps Cross healthcare workers accused of abusing elderly patients appear in court

Three healthcare workers accused of a campaign of abuse against vulnerable elderly patients at Whipps Cross University Hospital appeared in court today.

Sharmilla Gunda, 35, of Horns Road, Ilford; Annette Jackson, 32, from west London, and Akousa Sakyiwaa, 37, from Leytonstone, are accused of neglecting geriatric patients on the Beech ward at the hospital in Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone.

They picked on some patients suffering from dementia because they were old and deprived them of food, Thames Magistrates’ Court heard.

The allegations emerged between mid-February and mid-April, after student nurses who say they witnessed the abuse contacted a whistle-blowing system operated by Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs Whipps Cross.

The three women were arrested and suspended from their jobs while an investigation took place.

Prosecutor Jonathan Efemini told the court: “It is alleged there were a large number of incidents involving the defendants against some of the in-patients.

“Some of which were witnessed by nurses and students, ranging from physically and verbally abusing the patients, some for which food was being withheld and other forms of abuse.

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“The Crown will suggest the defendants were motivated by prejudice and discrimination based on the victims’ age.”

The three women are due to return to court on December 11 when the case is committed to crown court.

None of them entered any indication of plea.

Gunda is charged with one count of ill-treatment or neglect and a further count of fraud.

Jackson, of Hounslow, is charged with four counts of ill-treatment or neglect and Sakyiwaa with seven counts of ill-treatment or neglect and a further count of common assault.

They were released on conditional bail.