Two A&E nurses have been found guilty of altering patient discharge times to ensure they met the four-hour waiting time target during a high profile period of serious care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Ward sisters Sharon Turner and Tracey White were also found guilty of a number of charges related to patient care and dishonesty around the management of the A&E department.
A fitness to practise panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council yesterday found Sharon Turner also used foul language about patients and threatened to make her colleague’s life “hell”.
The regulator found she inaccurately recorded patient discharge times and instructed staff to transfer patients to wards with “soiled sheets”.
In October 2007 she actively encouraged fellow nurses to “lie about it” when she discovered the trust was breaching the four hour treatment time target in A&E.
Between December 2003 and October 2009, when Ms Turner worked at the trust, she spoke about patients and staff in an “inappropriate manner” and on one occasion she said that she didn’t give a “flying f***” about patients”, the panel found.
She also said “they can f****** wait” and “they want to get real”, or words to that effect, it heard.
Determining the facts of the case against Ms Turner, the panel also ruled that she made racially motivated comments about Asian junior doctors.
“What have you got in your rucksack doctor, is it a bomb?” she is reported to have said. She is also accused of calling them “suicide bombers” or “Osama’s mate”.
The panel also found that she made inappropriate comments about three other colleagues.
With respect to one male nurse, she said she would “would make his life hell and get rid of him in six months” and “would drive him to drink and he would be out of here”.
And when he was admitted to hospital after taking an overdose she said words to the effect of: “He should have taken a few more pills and done the job properly”, the NMC panel found.
She also said “I don’t care if she lives or dies”, or words to that effect, when another colleague was taken to hospital with a head injury, they said.
Ms Turner also said something along the lines of: “I am going to have her if it’s the last thing I do” about another nurse, they determined.
In the case of Tracey White, who is still employed at the trust, the panel ruled that Ms White refused to help a senior nurse undress an elderly patient and called her a “naughty little monkey” for refusing to take drugs to treat constipation.
They also found that in relation to a patient who had attended A&E following a termination of their pregnancy, Ms White said words to the effect of: “she can wait, if you can do that to your baby”.
Between July 2000 and July 2010 she is also accused of inaccurately recording patient discharge times from A&E, and ordering other colleagues to follow her example.
The panel also ruled that she changed patient records so that it would appear that the department was meeting waiting time targets.
They also judged that she ordered staff to move patients on to a different parts of the hospital before they had been properly assessed by A&E staff and transferred patients to wards with soiled sheets, they found.
Ms White faced five charges of misconduct but the independent panel found that she had “no case to answer for” for one allegation of falsifying computer records for the time a patient was admitted to A&E. They also ruled that the facts were “not proved” for some elements of the other allegations against her.
The independent panel will decide whether the pair are still fit to practise . If they deem that their fitness to practise is impaired, the panel will determine what sanctions should be imposed against the two women.
The two nurses were at the centre of whistleblowing claims by fellow A&E nurse Helene Donnelly who was threatened when she spoke out and ultimately left the trust as a result of the campaign against her.
Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust was at the centre of a public inquiry which highlighted the “appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people” at the trust.
Probes into the scandal revealed that many patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days or given the wrong medication.
Maggie Oldham, chief executive at Mid Staffordshire Trust, said: “Tracey White is still employed by the trust and works as a clinical site manager.
“We will need to take some time to consider the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel’s findings once they announce their decisions.
“Sharon Turner is no longer employed by the trust. She left her advanced practitioner post in September 2009.”
Are you able to Speak out Safely?
Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS