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Final panel decision: What should happen to a nurse who stole controlled drugs from a hospital?

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Find out how the NMC panel acted in this case. Not yet read the case? Read the charge and background here

The panel was satisfied that Nurse A’s fitness to practise was currently impaired by reason of her misconduct.

Sanction

The panel has considered this case carefully and has decided to make a striking-off order. It directs the registrar to strike Nurse A off the register. 

The panel identified the following as aggravating factors in this case including:

  • Nurse A attempted to implicate her colleagues; 
  • The charge was one of theft;
  • Not a one off incident; instead it relates to 10 occasions of theft over a relatively short period of time, which coincides with her period of employment;
  • No evidence of insight, remorse or remediation by Nurse A in respect of her behaviour;
  • There was further dishonesty (i.e. lying to cover Nurse A’s previous dishonesty in taking the drugs).

The panel identified the following as mitigating factors in this case:

  • Registrant A has no previous adverse regulatory findings against her;
  • There was no evidence of actual direct harm caused to patients;
  • There is nothing to indicate concern for her clinical capabilities.

The panel then went on to consider whether a suspension order would be an appropriate sanction. The panel took the view that suspension would not be appropriate as there was ongoing misconduct; Nurse A’s behaviour could not have been said to be a single instance of misconduct. She had stolen codeine phosphate over a period of time, therefore there was repetition.

Moreover, due to a lack of evidence, the panel could not be satisfied that Nurse A had insight into her actions.

The conduct, as highlighted by the facts found proved, was a significant departure from the standards expected of a registered nurse. The panel noted that the serious breach of the fundamental tenets of the profession evidenced by Nurse A’s actions was fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register.

The panel determined that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is that of a striking-off order. Nurse A’s actions were significant departures from the standards expected of a registered nurse.

The panel was of the view that the findings in this particular case demonstrate that her actions were serious and to allow her to continue practising would undermine public confidence in the profession and in the NMC as a regulatory body.

Furthermore, the panel had regard to the guidance which explained the circumstances in which dishonest conduct is less serious; this included one-off incidents, opportunistic or spontaneous conduct and no direct personal gain. However, after careful examination the panel concluded that this was not such a case.

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