Former Mid Staffs chief nurse 'risked patient safety', says NMC panel
A former chief nurse at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital has been found guilty of exposing patients to danger by a fitness to practise panel.
By not ensuring that there were adequate nursing staff on a number of wards, Janice Harry put patients at risk, the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel ruled.
Between 1998 and 2006 Ms Harry failed to ensure there were adequate nursing staff in the accident and emergency department, the emergency admission unit (EAU) and another ward, the panel found.
Ms Harry was also criticised for not ensuring that her colleagues provided patient dignity and privacy in the EAU between 2004 and 2006.
in addition, the chief nurse failed to ensure there was appropriate food and drink in the unit, the panel concluded.
She will also be reprimanded for using inappropriate language towards a colleague after telling her that she was a “waste of space”.
Ms Harry was employed by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and its predecessor Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals Trust from 1998 to 2006.
From 1998, she was director of nursing and quality assurance at Stafford Hospital and in 2002 was appointed director of clinical standards and chief nurse, as well as director of infection prevention and control.
Ms Harry has appeared before an NMC hearing accused of a string of misconduct charges relating to her role at the scandal-hit trust.
On Tuesday, the fitness to practise panel found her guilty of some of the charges but cleared her of others.
She was cleared of charges relating to cleanliness and hygiene, inappropriate handling of incident forms, telling staff off, reducing a colleague to tears and disregarding staff concerns, among other allegations.
When giving evidence to the disciplinary hearing in London, Mrs Harry admitted she could be “intense” at times in her dealings with staff.
She described herself as “firm but fair” but said her sometimes “very straightforward” manner could be misinterpreted as aggressive.
“I think I am firm but fair, I know I can be quite intense sometimes, if I am passionate about something or care about something,” she told the panel.
In evidence, Mrs Harry insisted that despite her title she was not the line manager for any of the hospital’s ward nurses and that she instead oversaw clinical standards across the NHS trust.
The panel will now decide what sanctions to impose on the nurse.
Stafford Hospital was at the centre of a major public inquiry after it was found that poor care could have led to the deaths of hundreds of patients as a result of maltreatment and neglect.
The inquiry highlighted the “appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people” at the trust and probes into the scandal revealed that many patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.
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