The nursing regulator has revealed details of its decision last week to strike off two former accident and emergency nurses who altered patient discharge times to meet waiting time targets at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
A fitness to practise panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council ruled last Thursday that the actions and behaviour of Sharon Turner and Tracy White was so serious they should no longer be allowed to work as nurses.
In its case determination report, published late last week, the NMC panel said it recognised the “toxic” environment at the trust when the events occurred.
But in a clear signal to the rest of the profession, the panel said it was “absolutely clear” the same sanctions would be imposed on “any nurse working at any hospital” who was guilty of the same misconduct.
Both Ms Turner and Ms White were working as sisters in Stafford hospital’s A&E department during the period “hundreds” of patients suffered appalling care.
They were found to have been dishonest and altered discharge times for A&E patients, as well as pressuring other nurses to do the same.
They also ordered staff to transfer patients before they had been assessed and while some were left in soiled sheets.
Ms Turner, who left the trust in 2009, used foul language about patients and threatened to make her colleague’s life “hell”, the panel found. On one occasion she said she didn’t give a “flying f***” about patients” and was racist towards junior doctors, calling them “suicide bombers” or “Osama’s mate”.
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.
In relation to a patient who attended A&E following a pregnancy termination, the panel heard Ms White said words to the effect of: “She can wait, if you can do that to your baby.”
The NMC panel ruled the pair had shown “deep seated attitudinal problems” and “a lack of insight”, adding: “It is a fundamental tenet of the nursing profession you should put patients and their care first. You did not do that.”
It concluded: “Your conduct was completely unjustifiable and the panel must make it clear, however long ago it may have happened, such prolonged and serious failings over an extended period of time are wholly unacceptable.”
Both nurses were the subject of a complaint by whistleblower Helene Donnelly who told the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public Inquiry that she “regularly” saw patients dying “without dignity or respect”. Despite her complaint, an investigation was never completed and both sisters were re-appointed to their roles.