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Mid Staffs nurses launch High Court appeal over ban

Two former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust nurses who were struck off for altering accident and emergency waiting times are to launch a High Court bid next week to overturn their ban.

Sharon Turner and Tracy White are appealing against the decision of a Nursing and Midwifery Council fitness to practise panel last year which ruled the pair were guilty of misconduct and should be struck-off the nursing register.

The panel concluded both of them were guilty of providing poor care, bullying and being dishonest in the management of the trust’s A&E department and by their actions had brought the nursing profession into serious disrepute.

The case will be heard in the High Court on Tuesday where Nursing Times understands the two nurses will claim they have been victims of media sensationalism and scapegoated by the NMC in the wake of the scandal.

Both Ms Turner and Ms White were working as sisters in Stafford hospital’s A&E department during the time “hundreds” of patients suffered appalling care and were the subject of a complaint by whistleblowing nurse Helene Donnelly who was bullied and threatened as a result.

Stafford hospital

Stafford hospital

The NMC panel found Ms Turner, who left the trust in 2009, used foul language about patients and staff and also threatened her colleagues.

It said she inaccurately recorded patient discharge times and instructed staff to transfer patients to wards with “soiled sheets”. She actively encouraged nurses to lie about the discharge times in order for the department to meet A&E waiting time targets.

Ms White refused to help a senior nurse undress an elderly patient, who she called a “naughty little monkey” for refusing to take drugs to treat constipation.

The panel also heard 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 was also accused of inaccurately recording patient discharge times from A&E and ordering colleagues to follow her example.

The NMC panel ruled she ordered staff to move patients to different parts of the hospital before they had been properly assessed and with soiled sheets.

 

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Readers' comments (23)

  • Who is funding this appeal ?

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  • Well, I think they've got a case judging by the leniency handed down to the woman who actually caused the death and suffering to thousands of people at that hospital.

    Think about it: they were not massaging the figures for themselves, but for the Trust.

    I'm not saying I agree with what they did or how they behaved or that I think they should be allowed back on the register, but if the woman who allowed it all to happen has affective not been punished at all why should these two?

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  • Amazing that you can loose your job through hearsay.
    This might stand up for the NMC, but wont last a second in court.
    My crystal ball predicts a large payout, indeedy, oh yes.

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  • What these two did was heinous and a disgrace to the profession. I will be spitting bullets if the high court overturns the NMC decision.

    The longer they are off the register (and anyone like them) the better, for both patients and the profession..

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  • Well you don't know the story, you know what the media has told you. Judge from a position of ignorance if you must. Besides, none of those things mentioned are even major issues in the grand scheme of things. What I'm getting is that one of these nurses want nice and they felt as if no time could be spared to do a better job. I doubt these things were said to be cruel... More than expedient. As for the termination thing, well. It isn't nice but it clearly wasn't said directly to the patient. To betray private conversations is wrong. That opinion re abortion isn't like comments about race or gender, likely this person thought the woman's circumstances were not the most morally solvent. After all, aren't a significant number of terminations from a failure to prevent a pregnancy? (Yes! They are!)
    but to tattle on someone for a privately expressed opinion upholds no standards. It was her opinion, the poisonous person is the one who ensures the statement spread.

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  • What they should have done was raise concerns and stand up to the management. Unfortunately the system is against people who do that in that they are then discriminated against. Until all nurses stand up for what they know is right then this situation will not change. They should have done what was best for their patients and not the managers/hospital. With regard to "hearsay", I agree that everyone has their own personal opinion and she is entitled to hers. However, when her opinion then affected patient care, in that she made someone wait because of it, that was when the line was crossed. What we have read about the circumstances is absolutely horrendous but none of us know all the facts and hopefully the court will make the right decision.

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  • So Anonymous 11.18 thinks that someone who raises concerns is a "poisonous" person. Doesn't that say it all. Thats how this mess started in the first place. By people being too scared to speak out in case they were labelled or discriminated against. As sisters, they were in a position of seniority and should lead by example.

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  • [Jenny Jones | 8-Feb-2014 11:06 am
    Who is funding this appeal ?]



    Having been close to someone who had to choose whether or not to take an NMC decision to the High Court, I can tell you that the risk of costs are borne by either the individual in a private capacity or by the professional body/union. The professional body or union will only underwrite the case if they believe there is a better than 51% chance of winning. There is a chance that they may have Family Legal protection through house/car insurance that might cover it too.

    I do not believe that legal aid is available - I guess that is what you are most bothered about.

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  • tinkerbell

    I was once in a position where my union were going to take my employer to court for me as I was seriously damaged by an assault and vital information that could have prevented me being assaulted was never handed over to me in an effort to get the patient back on my unit from their current ward. As it turned out my so called union backed down and said I would have to pay for the court case myself which if I lost could mean I would have to sell my assets, ie. home to pay for the action, despite QC saying I had a good case and hadn't been properly protected under health and safety or some such etc.,

    If they are going to the high court it is not a decision they have taken lightly I speculate if they are going to have the pay the costs themselves if they fail.
    Whilst they might be guilty it is only right and proper that they are considered innocent until proven so, you know justice and all that malarkey.

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  • Fully agree with you Tinkerbell about justice. We only really know what has been splashed around in the press and what those with the power of authority are able to disclose.

    I am currently embroiled in a complaint with a Trust, as a relative, about breach of confidentiality and poor care. I am appalled at the handling of this complaint by the chief executive who has gone out of his way to cause even more trouble and upset within our family. I have been libelled, bulllied and my complaint twisted to suit the Trusts own needs.

    This is not helpful to anybody in our family least of all the patient who sadly suffers with severe mental illness. To see this CE tweeting and giving lectures about compassionate care is hypocritical nauseating.

    There are two side to every story and these two nurses do deserve to have their case heard in a completely unbiased environment.

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  • Should read hypocritical and nauseating.


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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 10-Feb-2014 8:36 pm

    Hope you get a good outcome. It shouldn't have to be this hard to get to the truth but unfortunately there isn't much transparency but a lot of lip service about transparency.

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  • I feel encouraged to read these posts that show nurses are being supported and the comments reflect common sense. I agree that someone should not loose their job or license over here say. I have written about the need for staff to let off steam and express their feelings in terms of 'off stage' and 'on stage' settings. I agree with the comment that the nurse's confidentiality should not have been broken. I wish them well.

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  • So have the doctors who had complaints against them been investigated? No, the GMC dropped all the cases. And did those doctors return their CEAs? I'm not for a moment condoning the behaviour of what went on, but it is so frustrating to see nurses punished but no action against other professions.

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  • Who suggests the evidence was hearsay seriously needs to read the Conduct & Competence Committee determination on the FACTs of these two nurses! There were a number of live witnesses that testified against these nurses (that was NOT hearsay evidence) - read the panels judgment - its all in there !

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  • Thank you Tinkerbell I won't give in but our situation shows that when all said and done did Francis really make a difference?

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  • Even if the evidence was true, did their punishment fit the "crime" The case was very high profile and it could be argued they were scapegoated.

    My father died in hospital because of poor medical and nursing care I have read his file and studied the notes and charts. I am appalled at how he was managed. We have had an apology and been "reassured" the nurse undertook reflective practice. I can assure you I would have no qualms about my father being called a little monkey. I do have issues when dehydration that contributed to his death was overlooked because charts were not completed properly and nobody suffers apart form the family.

    Let's face it as well how many other trusts have fudged figures to achieve targets. Isn't that how the NHS runs?

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Feb-2014 10:20 am

    I was so hopeful that it would but not much evidence to date, so unfortunately I have to come down on the side of reality and not wishful thinking, at the moment that is. Ever hopeful!

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  • I welcome the right of these nurses to have
    the right to be heard in a court of appeal.
    How ever if they are reinstated I hope that the same facility will be accorded to the junior colleagues, Patients, Doctors and relatives with whom they come in to contact . (There is a certain irony in all of this don't you think?)

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  • Rita Lawrence | 11-Feb-2014 1:27 pm

    "I feel encouraged to read these posts that show nurses are being supported and the comments reflect common sense."

    However the nurse who whistleblowed is being described as poisonous and whistleblowing being described as "to tattle on". This is not supporting the nurse who decided to speak out. Some nurses do not deserve our support but let the courts decide

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