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Woman avoids jail after posing as nurse

A woman has been spared jail after falsely claiming to be a registered nurse.

Denice Stewart, 47, pleaded guilty to fraud, forgery and deception at Maidstone Crown Court after being investigated by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, and was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

In December 2003, Stewart forged a registration application with The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) while living in Darlington, County Durham. At the time, she was already working at Darlington Hospital as a bank nursing auxiliary.

In July 2005 she moved to Wimbish, Essex, where she got a job as a practice nurse in Newport after falsely claiming to be a registered general nurse with the NMC.

In July 2006, she moved again, this time to Great Lines, Gillingham, where, over a period of four years she found work as a practice nurse in four GP surgeries in the Medway area, before moving to Wales in late 2010.

Checks made by the NMC found Stewart had been working as a nurse after forging qualification documents and stealing another nurse’s registration forms. She was arrested in Brecon, Mid Wales, on July 22, 2011.

As part of her sentence, she also received a six-month curfew and must complete 100 hours of voluntary work.

Readers' comments (28)

  • Well that says it all - it's okay to pretend to be a nurse for years and get away with it because they aren't very important are they? You can bet your bottom dollar if she had pretended to be a policeman she wouldn't be spared jail. This is premeditated fraud and forgery pure and simple and she should have been punished appropriately. Did it have to wait until she made a fatal error to jail her? People go to jail all the time for serious fraud and forgery so how is this any different? In fact, this is worse as she had people's lives in her hands. What sort of deterrent is that? And how did it pass the NMC by so easily?

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  • I totally agree with the previous submission, this individual put peoples lives at risk. She had no understanding of the role of a nurse, she was more than likely giving out incorrect information to patients during her time as a practice nurse.

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  • what have the NMC and her employers got to say, they thought she was a nurse because she was able to pretend she was a nurse - so much for protecting the public.

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  • Sometimes I wonder at the thinking of the lawyers/judges etc this is a far more dangerous crime than our recent speeding offence folks, though lying in court is a a crime to be punished , the punishment for both should be more equal.
    I agree the crime has not been taken seriously enough.

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  • This just shows how innfectual the NMC is!!!
    All us registered nurses who struggle with the NMC for years and never receive adequate answers yet still the fees continue to escalate - £100pawhat ajoke!!! it is time that Registered nurses demanded something for their money - just another money sucking organisation who does not punish fraudsters giving the message " its not that serious"

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  • I agree with all the submissions above, if this had been a police officer a different story. What the hell is happening to this nursing profession ? we work longer hours not the right number of staff needed to care for our patient's The Nhs it is all smoke and mirrors.

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  • speechless, and the NMC have raised their registration fees!!

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  • Patients lives, our lives as potential patients, are in the hands of the NMC! ???

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  • It's very encouraging to know that the NMC had their finger on the button again, what is their purpose. I thought they were there to protect the public yet thousands of patients got 'treated' or examined by a pretendy nurse.

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  • She went to court not judged by the NMC. Maybe if the trusts and NMC had been more careful when she was appointed that is another thing.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Mar-2013 8:04 pm

    the NMC are still responsible for their registrants and for protection of the general public against bogus practitioners.

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  • If you ever read through the FtP cases on the NMC website you'll see that actually registered nurses are getting time for less risky behaviour. This doesn't sit well at all.

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  • Putting the time line together reveals warning signs to prospective employers. Denice Stewart moved jobs on a yearly basis, she kept moving. It would be interesting to find out how she managed to gain the posts but then did not stay long. Practice Nursing is highly skilled, was she found out because she did not have the expected skill level and then left. If so why was she not reported sooner to prevent other employers taking her on. Was being conned embarrising for the Practice Managers and GPs so they just let her go to avoid local press interest. More questions than answers.

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  • It's time to put forward a vote of no confidence in the NMC,they do nothing for us or the general public yet continue to raise registration fees.Unfortunately nurses salaries do not rise and the NMC states it no longer provides an advice service.Personally I would rather be answerable to the GMC.

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  • Surely every smear test she undertook was sexual assault and every injection actual bodily harm, never mind the fraud undertaken. Seriously deranged.

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  • How can someone get away with this. They should be locked up for that. Putting others at risk is ok then is it. So when a real Nurse puts someone's life at risk from now on everything will be ok ad we can get away with it. No wonder some pepole don't trust Nuurses. Who can blae them when you here stories that.

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  • This seriously undermines the role of the Practice Nurse, the professionalism and the ethico-legal responsibilities and duties that are entrusted to us. If someone with no experience or qualifications can do the job for as long as that without being accountable, then we as a profession had better watch out!! Gps now replace qualified nurses with HCAs and now the RCN are talking about assistant practitioners. We are being micromanaged to the point of eradication and many of us are being forced to undertake training without support or funding. We have no choice if we want to retain our professional competencies, registration and keep our jobs. This includes compassion in care, dignity and safeguarding. The NMC along with Cameron and his government pay lip service to us and nothing more. The real power is in the hands of the employers - ergo the GPs and CCGs. It has become a target driven and payment by results ethos and culture. The NMC and RCN should get into the real world and wake up and smell the coffee!!

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  • the nursing profession becomes rather pointless if the authorities and employers believe they can cut down on training costs and get the same service far cheaper from less qualified individuals. if they are so blind, time will tell when statistics show the results of this type of care and a far greater burden of practice and accountability on the medical profession.

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  • How on earth did she know how to do the job?? Did no other staff member think it was strange that she didn't know anything?

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  • When I saw the headline of this article, I thought the CNO had almost been rumbled.

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