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Mid Staffs nurses avoid being struck off after failing to act when patient deteriorated

  • 24 Comments

Two nurses who admitted failing to act when a patient died at Stafford Hospital can remain on the nursing register, a fitness to practise hearing has ruled.

More than 50 cases relating to the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust were originally referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but it found no case to answer in 37 of them.

The conclusion of the two cases last week means six of the 15 referrals where the NMC found there was a case to answer have now been closed. Only one registrant who worked at the West Midlands trust has so far been struck off the register.

Therisia Van der Knapp and Evelyn Agbeko both admitted misconduct in relation to their care of a patient on ward 11 of Stafford Hospital in April 2010. Both were staff nurses at the time but Ms Agbeko was in charge during the night shift when the incident occurred.

Ms Agbeko admitted that at 4am and 6am she had recorded the patient was asleep when she “knew or ought to have known” the patient had died. The NMC panel also found she failed to ensure adequate observations were carried out or ensure that the resuscitation team was called when the patient was found unresponsive.

She has been made subject to a 12-month conditions of practice order, which bans her from taking charge of a shift and requires her to complete training courses in basic life support.

The panel decided not to impose any restrictions on Ms Van der Knapp’s practice due to the level of insight she demonstrated into her actions and that she had no previous blemishes on her 35 year nursing career.

She admitted that on finding the patient unresponsive she failed to press the emergency alarm, ensure that the resuscitation team was called or commence basic life support.

In her defence, Ms Van der Knapp said the CPR protocol was different in her home country of Holland. But the NMC ruled as a nurse practising in the UK she had a duty to follow the required standards in this country.

The panel decided to impose a caution on Ms Van der Knapp, which will be visible on her registration for two years.

In Ms Agbeko’s case the panel ruled that sanctions were necessary because she was the nurse in charge and had shown “limited” insight during the NMC proceedings.

Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust said in a statement that both women no longer worked for the trust.

Trust director of nursing and midwifery Colin Ovington said: “The trust does not tolerate poor care and we have a robust internal disciplinary process for dealing with staff who do not reflect our trust values in their practice.

“Appropriate action, including suspension and dismissal is taken against those who fall short of the standards we expect from our nurses. Referrals are also made to the NMC where necessary.”

 

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  • 24 Comments

Readers' comments (24)

  • Does this mean that by not being allowed to be 'in charge' of a shift she will now always have the support of another trained nurse who will have to take all the responsibility for that shift?
    Aren't both nurses supposed to know how to deal with a resus?

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  • How can this be?
    NHS staff are paid good money to lead and manage patient care but no one accepts accountability for these deaths!

    - No wonder people are losing confidence in the staff of the NHS & the state regulator CQC
    This is bad news for the people who put patients first

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  • Wow.
    What the hell are we paying the NMC for exactly.
    These numpties should NOT be allowed near patients ever again.

    Has anyone ever researched what percentage of members of NMC panels are still clinically credible???

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  • I attended a networking event yesterday and heard Julie Bailey talk about her awful experiences when her mother was on ward 11 for 8 weeks and the suffering that was going on. It is hard to understand how anyone, particularly in the healthcare sector, could subject patients to such maltreatment or standby and watch it happen. It is up to everyone of us, staff, patients and visitors to highlight both good and bad experiences for the sole purpose of making improvements

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  • they no longer work for the trust - so have they been quietly shunted off somewhere else?

    'the trust does not tolerate poor care' - so why was the poor care allowed to continue.

    did they both already have BLS training before being let loose on the wards? if not, why not.

    not being allowed to be in charge of the shift anymore is hardly a punishment is it, most nurses would welcome that opportunity wouldn't they.

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  • michael stone

    It seems you need to cock-it-up in a really big way, to get the boot: or, do something trivial and upset your boss a lot.

    This, as I've said before, is something of a joke:

    'In her defence, Ms Van der Knapp said the CPR protocol was different in her home country of Holland. But the NMC ruled as a nurse practising in the UK she had a duty to follow the required standards in this country.'

    'Follow the required standards' - around CPR ! Has the NMC not read the 'stuff' around CPR - oh, probably not as it happens.

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  • Who cares what they do in Holland, this is not Holland. They did not help a patient in need and one told fibbies. What exactly do nurses have to do before they are booted out?
    Why give either of them a second chance.

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  • Tinkerbell

    what about the strain it will place the other RN nurse under who has to work alongside this liability.

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  • For a nurse to practice in the UK there is a requirement to be registered with the NMC so surely this means they are bound by UK law and hospital policy on CPR.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 21-Jun-2013 11:22 pm

    Nurses are bound by the law, the NMC tells nurses to both obey the law and also to follow 'local policies': a couple of years ago I pointed out that some local guidance around things like CPR/ADRTs didn't actually fit the law, and that by telling nurses to follow dodgy guidance, the NMC was itslef 'apparently vicariously liable'.

    I supplied the explanation of the problem with various 'local policies' and the NMC guy said 'I'll ask our legal dept, and get back to you'. About 2 weeks later, he sent 'I have to get permission to ask out legal experts questions, and I've been refused permission to ask our legal department about this'.

    Law is law, and guidance isn't law: court cases will tend to make decisions based on the law, tribunals and internal inquiries tend to make decisions based on their own guidance/policies - hugely messy, when guidance and policy drifts away from the actual law !

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