Attempted murder

Violetta Aylward was an agency nurse who turned off a patient's ventilator nearly killing him and leaving him brain damaged.

This is known to be true as the act was recorded by a video camera in the patient's bedroom. The camera was installed because the patient, Jamie Merrett, was concerned about the quality of care that he was receiving from the agency, Ambition 24hours, that was supplying nurses for him. It is not known if this was because of previous care by Violetta Aylward or other nurses supplied by Ambition 24hours.

Only days after the camera was installed, Violetta Aylward turned off his ventilator and then when she realised that mistake she had done tried desperately to switch it back on. She tried for over 20 minutes before paramedics who were called to the house took over and managed to switch the machine back on. However though it was in time to save his life, it wasn't in time to save his mind. Jamie is now brain damaged due to the actions of Violetta Aylward.

Nurse Violetta Aylward was suspended in Janurary 2009 when the incident happened. It is assumed that she is still suspended to this day (October 2010). Why she was not arrested on attempted murder charges is anyone's guess. The evidence is on the video. The fact that paramedics managed to save Jamie's life is beside the point. Violeta was the prime causes of the accident that led to Jamie being starved of oxygen for over 20 minutes. Were the police involved at any stage?

The family of Jamie Merrett still have not received a proper apology for the poor quality of care since the incident. They are now effectively forced to take legal action themselves since no one has admitted resposinbility or liability. The agency that employed her are not guilty of murder, but they are guilty of misadministration and lax procedural rules for not checking that the nurses they supplied had the requiste training. They aren't a small fly by night agency either. They are a massive national agency listed in the top 250 recruitment agencies by International Recruitment and have been around since 1996.

The NHS Wiltshite Primary Care Trust has said "We have put in place a series of actions to ensure that such an event will not occur again either for this patient or others." Why didn't they do this when Jamie wrote to them before the camera was installed about the lack of care. Why does it take a tragedy for an organisation to change or update their procedures. It shouldn't need this trigger. What it does show is that the organisation is not bothered about the care of it's patients. All they are bothered about is following their procedures and if anything happens to say "I just followed the rules". Just the same excuses brought forth by those involved in the "Baby P" scandal.

The Merritt family's case is highlighted in a BBC Inside Out West & Inside Out South programme.


  1. "Why she was not arrested on attempted murder charges is anyone's guess."

    You answer your own question in the article - "Violeta was the prime causes of the accident". To be guilty of murder you have to demonstrate intent to kill. This was obviously not the case. Now making her face a charge of manslaughter - that's a very different matter.

    Also, Jamie Merrett was so concerned about his treatment he installed the camera. He'd also complained on many occasions to his PCT who appear to have done the square-root of bugger-all in response. A charge of gross negligence contributing to this accident would seem to be appropriate for junior, middle and senior PCT management.

  2. The agency are to blame, why is their name not being shouted from the rooftops as an example of private health care incompetence ?, they clearly send out nurses/carers who have inadequate training, or without proper briefing on the job they are going out to.
    This case has only made it to our attention because of the film, what would have happened with out it ?

  3. @JohnR - I'll admit that Violeta wasn't guilty of murder as there wasn't intent. But she should still have been arrested for nearly killing Jamie. If someone injured a person by accident in any other situation they would usually be arrested, be it by driving, in a fight, or by negligence. Why she hasn't just because she is a nurse is not right.

    @Miss Mink - Yes, the agency should also be taken to court to take the consequences of their inaction and mismanagement. Even more so because they are a large company who would be expected to follow all the rules and ensure things are done properly. But it seems that they are like many other outsourcing companies in the health industry, more interested in their shareholders than their customers like Jamie Merrett.

  4. What would happen in a power cut? Surely ventilators must be backed up with uninterruptible power supplies (like essential hospital services)?

    When I first read this , I assumed the victim was in hospital, but no, he was doubly vulnerable at home. Ed P.

  5. Eddie, in a power cut, i believe they do indeed stop working.
    There maybe new types of ventilators available, but some years ago, a women in Bath died during a power cut.