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Judge intervenes in case of former Mid Staffs nurse chief

A High Court judge has granted a last minute injunction to stop former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust chief nurse Jan Harry from leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.

Ms Harry’s registration with the NMC was due to lapse on Thursday after she decided not to pay the annual registration fee, meaning she would be removed from the register and further disciplinary action could not be taken.

To prevent her from removing herself from the register the Professional Standards Authority today asked the High Court to impose an interim suspension order against her as an emergency injunction.

She was found guilty last month of misconduct by a fitness to practise panel for putting patients at risk and failing to ensure adequate numbers of staff were employed at the trust where she worked between 1998 and 2006.

Ms Harry, who has retired, was handed a five year caution order which is now the subject of an appeal by the Professional Standards Authority which claimed it was “too lenient”.

As a result of today’s injunction Ms Harry is now unable to remove herself from the NMC register until the PSA’s appeal against her sanction is dealt with.

She could be permanently struck off or have her case returned to the NMC fitness to practise procedure for reconsideration by a new panel.

Harry Cayton, chief executive of the PSA, said: “We are pleased the High Court has taken the action we asked for to ensure that Ms Harry remains on the NMC’s register until our appeal has been heard. This will ensure that our power to challenge fitness to practise panel decisions is not frustrated in this case.”

It is the second time in three months the PSA has requested an emergency injunction to prevent a nurse subject to an appeal by the PSA from leaving the NMC register.

In August the PSA sought a similar injunction against a nurse to stop her from leaving the register. The case was ultimately sent back to the NMC for a new fitness to practise panel.

Mr Cayton added: “This is the second time in three months we have had to ask the High Court to intervene to take this type of action in relation to an NMC panel decision, and we will be writing to the secretary of state - as the judge asked us to - to ask for urgent action to amend the NMC’s legislation so that this does not keep happening.”

 

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Hang on a second. Having supported a couple of friends through this kind of process, I thought it was already within the NMC's gift to perpetuate registration at their own discretion to stop exactly this kind of thing happening. Anyone facing a misconduct charge within a few months of their registration lapsing would be able to jump ship and avoid a hearing and move onto another job elsewhere with a cleaner record. Given the NMC's own admissions over how long some cases have taken to bring to a conclusion there must have been hundreds of cases that have had this opportunity, I am really shocked this is the first time it has happened.

    Odd. Very odd.

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  • NMC must go!

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  • Anonymous 11.33am
    You are right the NMC does have that power yes. The difference here is that the NMC has already concluded its case against Ms Harry and the PSA want to appeal the case because they believe the decision to hand her a five year caution was "too lenient." In those circumstances there is nothing to stop a registrant lapsing unless the PSA get an injunction which amounts to an interim suspension order.
    It is not the first time this has happened. The PSA took the same action in August, which was the first time. They will now seek legislative changes to try and stop it.
    Hope that's clear.

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  • What a waste of time and money, she is retired and wishes her registration to lapse? A ruling has been made already so why bother. With that ruling on her record she will not be employable as a nurse anyway. NMC what a waste of space!

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  • I have to agree with this action. Unless there is some accountability for actions/failures, the whole system of professional standards is worth nothing. In this case, justice is a key factor and it doesn't matter whether this nurse actually values or can realistically use her registration in future.

    We should always extend some human compassion to failing colleagues, but the main point of registration is to protect the public. It's not just a tin badge & a bit of paper.

    Disappointing that the NMC itself seems unable to perceive this, but given their track record it's not surprising, is it?

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  • Thank you Shaun Lintern for that very clear response.

    What I find odd is that the NMC did not or did not appear to apply an Interim Suspension Order which should be put in place in case the Registrant should wish to appeal against sanction. I understand that this is a period of weeks and also allows the PSA time to consider whether the sanction applied is appropriate. It looks like the ISO was overlooked in this case, which (if true) is a major procedural error.

    Perhaps the PSA should put the NMC itself through a Fitness To Practice panel?

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  • Anonymous | 6-Dec-2013 7:35 am

    No, no, no. If senior managers are to be held to account this particular one must not be allowed to just fade away.

    Well done PSA

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  • michael stone

    Shaun Lintern | 5-Dec-2013 4:55 pm

    Anonymous | 6-Dec-2013 1:23 pm

    I was also about to thank Shaun for that piece of clarity - I don't have the time to trawl through the NMC's regulations, but evading culpability by resignation or 'psychological collapse' (I seem to recall various people not attending the Mid Staffs inquiry because of 'stress issues') isn't something that generates public confidence.

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