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The panel had no doubt that at the time these events occurred Nurse A’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct.
The panel next considered whether her fitness to practise was currently impaired and whether Nurse A was liable to repeat her misconduct. The panel had careful regard to the issues of insight, remediation, remorse, her past history and current practice.
The panel appreciated that by not declaring her conditions of practice order when applying for a future job, Nurse A did not present a potential risk to patient safety, in that there was a risk that the future employer might have not allowed her to practice unrestricted in circumstances where the regulatory process had deemed her unsuitable to do so.
The panel accepted her evidence that she now had a genuine understanding of the importance of honesty within the nursing profession and was also mindful that this was an isolated incident. The panel appreciated that dishonesty can be difficult to remediate.
The panel also noted that Nurse A informed her current employer that she had previously been subject to a conditions of practice order even though at the time of commencing her employment there the conditions of practice order had been allowed to lapse.
It concluded, having heard Nurse A’s evidence, that the likelihood that she would repeat her misconduct was extremely low. This was a single incident in an otherwise unblemished nursing career of some thirty years and the panel therefore concluded that she did not present a risk to patient safety.
However it was the judgment of the panel that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of no impairment were to be found given the finding of dishonesty. The panel determined that a finding of impairment on public interest grounds was required.
Determination on sanction
The panel bore in mind that the purpose of a sanction is not to be punitive, although it may have that effect, but is intended to protect patients and serve the wider public interest.
The wider public interest includes maintaining public confidence in the profession and the NMC as its regulator, and declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour. Any sanction imposed must be no more than is necessary to protect the public and satisfy the public interest.
The panel considered this case carefully and decided to hand down a caution order for a period of two years. The panel was of the view that, in the particular circumstances of this case, a caution order would be both sufficient and proportionate.
The panel considered that Nurse A had continued to practice as a registered nurse without incident and a caution order was the least sanction which is compatible with upholding the public interest.
The panel was of the view that Nurse A’s dishonesty was not at the higher end of the spectrum of seriousness. Her dishonesty did not cause patient harm and this was a one off incident of dishonesty in a career of some 30 years.
The panel had no evidence before it that Nurse A had repeated her dishonest conduct in any way. There were no clinical issues in relation to her current practice and she has continued to work successfully, as a registered nurse. The panel did not wish to deprive the public of a good nurse.