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Abusive convent nurse struck off by NMC

A foul-mouthed convent nurse was struck off the nursing register on Friday.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Marie Margaret Sloan was sacked from her post as care manager of the Sisters of Loreto’s north Wales branch following a four-year spell of chaos.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council fitness to practise hearing heard how the Facebook-loving grandmother allowed a frail nun to be given the wrong medication for at least a week and trawled the internet for embarrassing stories about the sisters – who she said were “bonkers” and a “pain in the arse” to staff.

An NMC panel, which believes Ms Sloan sneaked hundreds of prescription tablets belonging to a dead nun into South Africa for her ill brother, said the registrant placed her patients at unwarranted risk time and time again.

Panel chair Christine Castledine said people would be placed in danger if the registrant was allowed to stay on the nursing register.

“Her conduct took place over a significant period of time when she was dealing with vulnerable and elderly patients who depended upon her,” she added.

“Despite Ms Sloan being in a position of trust, the care of the sisters was not her first concern.”

The Sisters of Loreto in Abbey Road, Llandudno, is a former school turned spiritual retreat and offers up to 20 residential places for elderly sisters.

Registered nurse Ms Sloan began working there in 2008 after bosses decided to create the new post of care manager.

Despite impressing in interview with her “extensive” nursing experience, her abilities were soon called into question.

In 2011 and 2012, inspections of the convent were carried out by external auditors, who said they were shocked at what they found.

Carer and cook Janet Starr, who has worked there for 16 years, told the NMC the place was supposed to be holy and serene, but she added: “One of the carers came into work drunk and I had to send her home for everyone’s safety.

“I phoned Marie about it but her reply was, ‘I can’t do anything about it’.”

Sisters of Loreto’s north Wales branch

Sisters of Loreto’s north Wales branch

Inspectors also found patient confidentiality was breached by “loud-mouthed” Ms Sloan, no staff training was provided and medication was not safely and securely stored. A housekeeper said she often found tablets strewn over the floor and in unlocked draws.

Ms Sloan was also accused of suddenly stopping the drug supply for a woman referred to in the hearing as Patient A, without approval from a doctor.

When the elderly woman died, the NMC was told how the registrant forgot to cancel the prescription, resulting in a stockpile building up.

Mrs Starr said her former boss confessed to taking “hundreds” of the tablets to South Africa.

“Marie said the medication was too expensive out there and her brother-in-law couldn’t afford it,” she added. “I told her that was illegal and drug-smuggling, but she didn’t seem to care.”

Also in 2012, a woman referred to as Patient B was given incorrect medication. The NMC said the gaffe, which caused “actual patient harm”, was noticed when the unwell Sister noticed someone else’s name on the packaging of the tablets just before she was due to see a GP.

The doctor’s appointment was cancelled but the mix-up was never recorded in the patient’s notes and only came to light when the pensioner told another member of staff in passing about it.

A three-person panel said Ms Sloan’s behaviour fell well below the standards expected of a registered nurse.

They referred to an incident where Ms Sloan contacted ex-pupils of the nuns over the internet in an attempt to find embarrassing stories about them.

As well as sharing the information she claimed to have found with staff, she compared one of the sisters to an internet photograph of a topless grandmother who had had breast enhancement surgery.

Computer data

Despite being given plenty of opportunity to rebuff the claims, the registrant opted to stay away from a five-day hearing in Cardiff.

After deciding 13 allegations of misconduct proven and her fitness to practise was impaired, the NMC said that as well as protecting patients it had to ensure public confidence in the profession was maintained.

Case presenter Robert Clarke said: “Ms Sloan put the sisters at unwarranted risk time and time again. They were vulnerable and elderly – one of the ladies is even over the age of 100.

“And these were not isolated incidents either. It was a disturbing and protracted period of misconduct.”

Mrs Castledine said: “This decision sends a clear message of the standards expected and required of nurses.

“Ms Sloan may face some hardship as the result of the decision, but the public’s interest and protection outweigh these.”

Ms Sloan has 28 days to appeal against the decision.

 

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