A PRIVATE nursing home has been ordered to close amid allegations that patients are at risk. But the move to deregister Palmview, in Ealing, has brought protests from patients and their relatives.

Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Health Authority successfully applied to deregister the nursing home, removing its certificate under the 1984 Homes Registration Act, at a private hearing before a magistrate in Ealing.

The health authority based its application on medical evidence concerning four patients, including the case of a resident who died in 1992 from bronchial pneumonia and blood poisoning, apparently caused by bed sores. The home, owned by Dr Peter Wilson and his wife Norma, was later exonerated by the coroner.

Ealing Magistrates Court said: 'Such action is rare and is only undertaken when there is deemed to be serious risk to life or health and well-being of patients.'

But 15 families are seeking legal advice to challenge the decision in court and Dr Wilson is expected to appeal to the Registered Homes Tribunal to have the closure order revoked. The owners have also refused alternative places for patients offered by the health authority, although the home in Woodville Gardens is now operating illegally.

Yesterday solicitors acting for the authority said it planned to pursue prosecution of the Wilsons because they were continuing to keep their 29 patients on the premises.

Doug Wilson, who is not related to the owners but whose brother Trevor, 51, a stroke victim, is a resident, said: 'There is uproar here. My brother loves it, he does not want to move. Some of the residents have been in tears. The staff here work wonders with

people who have some severe disabilities and problems. How dare they try to close it. We are going to fight this to the last.

Elaine Best, director of community care at the health authority, said the court action was exceptional and had been prompted by a series of serious complaints: 'We went to court because we needed to act quickly. There was evidence

of poor standards of care for individual patients and under staffing.'

Mrs Best refused, for legal reasons and because of patient confidentiality, to say why the home had been closed.

But she added that the authority had conducted an extensive investigation, including consultations with independent medical experts and repeated visits to the home. 'We know that moving the patients might cause distress to both them and their families, but we believe they are at risk.'

The health authority insists Palmview's future has been under review since October 1992, after the death of William Power. He was admitted to hospital suffering from bedsores on 1 October 1992 and died there 12 days later. A post-mortem examination revealed sores on an ankle and shoulder and on his buttocks and hips.

In a letter to the home's solicitors, the coroner said he did not consider it a case of 'lack of care' because the home had sought medical advice for Mr Power up to his admission to hospital.

Mrs Wilson said: 'We were not in any way blamed for this man's death at the inquest. If the health authority thought we were then why didn't they try to shut us down at the time.

'They didn't and it seems strange that they are trying to now, using that patient's death as the excuse.'

(Photograph omitted)