Find out how the NMC panel acted in this case. Not yet read the case? Read the charge and background here
Decision on impairment
The panel next went on to decide if, as a result of this misconduct, Nurse A’s fitness to practise was currently impaired.
The panel had regard to the fact that patients and the public place trust in the nursing profession, and that nurses are expected to act in a way which justifies that trust.
The panel considered that this was a fundamental tenet of the profession which Nurse A breached. His actions were also of such a nature as to bring the profession into disrepute as a result of his dishonesty.
The panel first considered Nurse A’s insight into his shortcomings and whether they had been remedied. The panel acknowledged that dishonesty can be difficult to remedy but it took into account the fact that Nurse A engaged fully with the NMC’s regulatory process and admitted the allegations from the outset.
The panel had regard to the fact that Nurse A clearly reflected on his failings and demonstrated significant insight and remorse, both in his reflective statements as well as in the course of his oral evidence. He was also able to explain how he would act appropriately if faced with a similar situation in the future.
The panel noted that Nurse A’s reflective statements demonstrated an understanding of why what he did was wrong and that he devised coping mechanisms to deal with external pressures. The panel noted that his dishonesty arose from a single incident and considered that he had demonstrated significant insight and expressed sincere remorse for his dishonesty through his reflective statements. The panel also took into account the positive references he submitted from current and previous nursing colleagues.
Taking into account all those factors, the panel determined that there was no risk of repetition of dishonesty.
In the light of these considerations, the panel determined that a finding of impairment was not necessary for the purpose of protecting the public. However the panel considered that the dishonesty was particularly serious and anything other than a finding of impairment would not be appropriate.
The panel also determined that the public would rightly deplore this dishonest conduct on the part of a registered nurse. In view of these considerations, the panel determined that, irrespective of the likelihood of repetition, a finding of impairment on public interest grounds was required to mark Nurse A’s behaviour as unacceptable.
Determination on sanction
The panel considered this case carefully and decided to hand down a caution order for a period of 12 months.
In reaching this decision the panel took into account the Indicative Sanctions Guidance (ISG), published by the NMC, which states that a caution order may be appropriate where ”the case is at the lower end of the spectrum of impaired fitness to practise and the panel wishes to mark that the behaviour was unacceptable and must not happen again.”
The panel took into account that Nurse A showed a considerable level of insight into his misconduct. The panel noted that he made early admissions and apologised profusely, showing evidence of genuine remorse. The panel considered that this was an isolated incident, which was out of character and it accepted Nurse A’s explanation that it was due to a temporary lapse of judgement.It took into account that he had already genuinely completed the training that he purported to have undertaken in the fraudulent certificate.
There was no evidence of other incidents in relation to his practice either before or since the incident.
As such the panel concluded that this was a case at the lower end of the spectrum of impaired fitness to practise and accordingly a caution order was appropriate and proportionate to mark Nurse A’s behaviour as unacceptable.
Do you agree with the panel?