The Charge: Nurse A was charged with submitting a fraudulent training certificate at interview to Thornbury Nursing Services in March 2016. It was alleged his actions were dishonest as he knew it was not genuine.
The background: Nurse A was referred to the NMC by a nursing services agency. As part of the recruitment process Nurse A submitted a training certificate issued by a training company that stated that he had completed “Package 4” in January 2016. This covers basic life support, fire awareness and infection control.
Witness A, a representative from the nursing services agency contacted Witness B, a sales manager at the training company to establish the certificate’s validity. When presented with the certificate, the nursing agency found several anomalies, which suggested that it was not genuine. As part of their verification procedure, the nursing services agency undertook further checks, which revealed that Nurse A had not undertaken any training with that company.
In June 2016 Nurse A submitted an email to the NMC admitting that he had provided a fabricated certificate to the nursing services agency. He confirmed that he had undertaken the relevant training, which had been outlined on the fraudulent certificate, earlier, in October 2015 with a different training company. He admitted that he had submitted a fraudulent certificate as he was unable to find the original certificate.
At the hearing
Following the reading of the charges, Nurse A admitted the facts alleged in the charges so the panel found the charges proved by way of admission. The panel felt that Nurse A’s actions fell significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse and amounted to a breach of the Code.
They were also of the view that the conduct found proved would be deemed deplorable by fellow practitioners. The panel concluded that his actions amounted to misconduct.
The panel next went on to decide if 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 that justifies that trust. The panel considered that Nurse A breached this fundamental tenet of the profession. His actions were also of such a nature as to bring the profession into disrepute as a result of his dishonesty.
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 noted 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. 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 that he had demonstrated significant insight and expressed sincere remorse. The panel also considered the positive references he submitted from current and previous nursing colleagues.
Results of the fitness-to-practise panel
The ftp panel can impose four different sanctions:
- Not impaired: the panel finds that the registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired; therefore they can continue to practise
- Conditions of practice: this will prevent a registrant from carrying out certain types of work or working in a particular setting, it may require them to attend occupational health or do retraining. The order can be applied for up to three years and must be reviewed by an FTP panel again before expiry
- Caution: the nurse or midwife is cautioned for their behaviour, but is allowed to practise without restriction
- Suspensions: the nurse or midwife will be suspended from practice for a period of initially not longer than one year, but this can be extended after review by an FTP panel
- Striking off: a nurse or midwife is removed from the register and not allowed to practise in the UK. The nurse or midwife must apply to be readmitted to the register