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A&E sisters guilty of altering waiting times at Mid Staffs

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.”

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Readers' comments (29)

  • It astounds me that these nurses still have a job. NMC protocols and Code of Practice have not been applied at all in the case and instead of suspending the nurses pending a decision one of them has been promoted to a clinical site manager. No wonder the NHS is nick - named the National Harm Service.

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  • It astounds me that they had a job for so long......these staff did not become monsters overnight: they flourished within a particular culture for quite some time prior to this.

    Then there is the tyranny of the 4 hour wait itself ....having recently moved to an A&E department I have noted how EVERYTHING revolves round this number and EVERYONE including the patients must comply with it regardless of any individual justification for it.

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  • These two should be struck off and that should only be the start. The case documentation should be handed to the police. Behaving like scumbags over a period of years should not go unpunished.

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  • Their behaviour is disgraceful to say the least. They are the low life type.

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  • Surely this rates criminal prosecution?

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  • Disgraceful, shameful, words fail me that such people, they cannot be called 'nurses' as they not do uphold the ethics of our profession, are still deemed ok to be registered with the NMC.

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  • How can it be that with evidence like that against those nurses that both remained employed for years afterward? In particular why is Tracey White still employed by the NHS Trust? How can these two call themselves nurses? There must also have been explicit or tacit approval of their conduct across the management structure for this to have continued for so long. Managers should be held to account also.

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  • Hmmmmm. Were these the only Sisters who falsified waiting times? Surely one can imagine that if they were, then the waiting times when they, and they alone were off duty would be far greater than the 4 hours. Perhaps that's why they were still employed.

    Or maybe they are just the patsys.

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  • redpaddys12 | 24-Jul-2013 1:45 am

    "Or maybe they are just the patsys."

    Foul mouthed, racist liars? Yes. Patsys? No. Let's not try to justify the behaviour. But they are not the only ones who should be dealt with.

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  • sounds oh so familiar

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  • What frightens me is how did this situation was allowed to develop?

    They were only found out because of things were going so wrong at Mid Staffs that there was an enquiry

    Question:Suppose they worked at another hospital , in another trust that is see as "good", would they still be practsiing?


    Question: Did these nurses behave like this when they first started?

    Was this behaviour encouraged or beacuse they were in positions of power and feared by all the nurses they got away with it?

    What scares me is there could be other nurses who behave just as awful but they get away with it

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  • These two are the sacrificial lambs !

    Maybe not very nice people or nurses.

    BUT

    What about Martin Yeates and the obnoxious Cynthia Bower who have "escaped" with BIG payouts ?

    Lets continue to bash the poorly led and bullied little people.

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  • Anon 7.27

    How many YEARS were these nurses there? When did these allegations come to light? Not working there ourselves, how do we know what is banter ( not funny I agree) and what is abuse, and what came before or after these comments? In black and white they seem damning, but the emotion and the background aren't included.
    Have you never had a patient come to your ward from AED on soiled sheets, to be told that this dried on poo must have happened when they were coming up in the lifts?
    If you haven't worked and been in charge in AED with this 4 hour rule, then you have no idea what pressure you are put under by senior management.
    Everyone in the dept. would have seen the fraud, hence the witnesses, but when there is only you on the phone with the Chief Exec/ Nursing Director/ Chairman screaming at you, demanding you make space in AED where is the proof? Woe betide you if you want to close the department! You can bet your bottom dollar that its not the kind of thing that they politely e-mail you about, its called ' plausible deniability', and to get to the top in the NHS you need to be able to give Machiavelli a few lessons. You need to see the woods and the trees in this case.

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  • redpaddys12 | 24-Jul-2013 9:36 am

    From my comment,

    "But they are not the only ones who should be dealt with."

    I know probably better than you the pressure of working in an ED, having done so for a couple of decades. And still I see no reason to rush to the defence of these two or justify their actions. It is precisely that thinking that allowed them to get away with it for so long. Of course there are many others who need to be brought to book. I never said they shouldn't. You need to look at what you are defending and ask yourself why.

    Banter my *rse!

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  • This is merely the public airing of the bullying and harrassment that has gone on within the NHS for too long.

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  • Anon 1.19

    Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Supposed to be a non-judgemental profession, pity that doesn't stretch to one-another.

    PS, don't twist my words, its unbecoming of a 'professional'

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  • They may not be the only 2, but these people are and have lowered the public opinion of nurses. Punish them on their own ? yes if it has to be so. We need to start somewhere and we need to become whistleblowers - if we don't then don't go writing in these comment columns complaining about the"ungrateful public" or "judging our colleagues in an unprofessional manner. I certainly don't want to be judged as being even slightly akin to this embarrassing pair.

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  • how many more are there?

    the whistle must always be blown hard and fast where it is heard until action is taken no matter what the cost? if problems are not addressed locally then they must be taken higher up, and if necessary, until they reach the very top.

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  • It surprises me that some very good nurses have been sanctioned or even struck off for drink driving (nothing to do with patients), and yet these two unsavoury characters are still registered and one of them has actually been promoted!! This beggars belief. Patient abuse doesn't happen overnight, it's a culture.

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  • redpaddys12 | 25-Jul-2013 0:14 am

    "Supposed to be a non-judgemental profession, pity that doesn't stretch to one-another."

    Right back at you. And you brought up the "professional" word. Not I. I would have no need to twist your words when you do such a stering job of messing that up on your own.

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