A foul-mouthed convent nurse’s misconduct has been proven after she referred to frail patients as being a “pain in the arse” and smuggled a dead nun’s prescription drugs abroad, a panel has ruled.
Marie Margaret Sloan was sacked from her post as care manager of The Sisters of Loreto’s north Wales branch in 2012 after concerns about her fitness to practise were raised.
The facility, a former school turned religious retreat, offers residential places for up to 20 sisters.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said it took a dim view of how Ms Sloan allowed a pensioner to be given the wrong tablets and trawled social networking sites for embarrassing stories about her frail patients - some of whom were former teachers and were in their 80s and 90s.
However, panel chair Christine Castledine said allegations the registrant had deliberately locked a member of staff in a room with dead body were not proven - citing inconsistencies in the account of a witness.
She said: “Ms Sloan acquired the job on the basis she was a registered nurse. As a member of the nursing profession she was subject to regulations.
“She did not uphold the basic standards expected of a qualified nurse.”
Ms Sloan began working at The Sisters of Loreto in Abbey Road, Llandudno, in 2008, after bosses decided to create a new position for a care manager.
Although the facility is not officially a care home, and the nuns do not pay to live there, bosses hoped to put Ms Sloan’s previous nursing experience to good use - especially as some of the sisters’ health had begun to decline due to their old age.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council
However, the grandmother’s capabilities were soon called into question following a string of errors and rows with staff - which prompted auditors to carry two inspections in 2011 and 2012.
Carer and cook Janet Starr, who has worked at the convent for 16 years, said the once serene and holy place turned into a place of chaos.
“One of the carers came into work drunk and I had to send her home for everyone’s safety,” said Mrs Starr.
“I phoned Marie about it but her reply was, ‘I can’t do anything about it’.”
The NMC was also told how medication was not properly locked away and cleaners regularly found items discarded on the floor.
After suddenly stopping the medication of a woman referred to as Patient A, and her subsequent death, Mrs Starr added the convent had a stockpile of the late nun’s prescription drugs and how her boss smuggled “hundreds” of tablets to South Africa.
She said: “Marie said the medication was too expensive out there and her brother-in-law couldn’t afford it.
“I told her that was illegal and drug smuggling - but she didn’t seem to care.”
Panel chairwoman Mrs Castledine described the witness as “very credible”.
She added: “On the balance of probabilities the panel finds the registrant did take the medication with her to South Africa.
“They were not returned to the pharmacy nor were they to be found in the filing cabinet at the convent.”
The hearing was also told the registrant contacted ex-pupils of the nuns under in her care via the internet and found several “embarrassing stories” before sharing them with staff.
And it was alleged Ms Sloan made inappropriate comments about her patients, including saying “they are all bonkers” and “I ain’t f****** taking that woman again because it’s a pain in the arse”.
Once the claims came to light, Ms Sloan was initially suspended from her post before being eventually dismissed.
The matter was then referred to the NMC, who invited Ms Sloan to attend a fitness to practise hearing in Cardiff to answer four charges.
It decided to proceed in her absence when she failed to show - despite several attempts to contact her.
The NMC discarded two matters claiming Ms Sloan locked a laundry worker in a room with Patient A’s body and allowing one sister to burn candles below a wooden shelf.
However, it ruled the remaining 13 allegations were proven and will next decide whether Ms Sloan’s fitness to practise is impaired.
Sanctions available to the NMC include permanently striking Ms Sloan from the nursing register.
The hearing continues.
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