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NMC rules Stafford HCA’s fitness to practise ‘impaired’


A tribunal has ruled a former Stafford Hospital healthcare assistant’s fitness to practise was impaired after she was found to have dragged an older dementia patient around by his pyjamas and then called him an animal.

Allegations that Bonka Kostova physically and verbally abused the 73-year-old patient including telling him “you are no longer a human being but an animal” - or words to that effect - were found proven at a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in central London.

The panel said that Ms Kostova’s fitness to practise was “currently impaired by reason of her misconduct” and would read out its final verdict on sanction on Thursday, the NMC said.

The Bulgarian-qualified midwife, working on a night shift as a healthcare support worker at the time, was found to have pushed the man, named only as patient A, into his wheelchair when he stood up, and to have pushed him into a bathroom and onto a toilet.

Kostova then pulled the man out of the toilet using the collar of his pyjama top while his trousers were around his ankles and his genitals were exposed, shouting “I hate you” and “you are no longer a human being but an animal”, or words to that effect, the NMC found.

Staff nurses Jane Wilkinson and Lucian Smith saw the incident and intervened, the hearing was told, taking Kostova into an office and telling her that her behaviour had been “unacceptable” and that they would report the incident.

Ms Wilkinson, who wept describing the incident to the tribunal yesterday, said Kostova was hard-working but could sometimes be abrupt with other members of staff, but that it was to do with her Bulgarian accent and demeanour.

But on this occasion Kostova, known as Bonnie to colleagues, was “losing it”, Mrs Wilkinson said.

The tribunal heard that the patient had been in the hospital just over a month receiving treatment for kidney stones when the incident took place just after 3am on 22 July 2010.

He was said to be aggressive in his speech or manner around 80% of the time, and usually had a one-to-one carer looking after him who would sometimes need the assistance of another if the patient became particularly difficult.

On this occasion, that carer went for a break, leaving Kostova in charge.

Kostova, who was not present for the hearing, had received general training in looking after vulnerable adults, but had not received specific training for dementia patients, ward manager Sharon Matthews told the tribunal.

She was suspended after the incident and has not worked at the hospital since, Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust’s medical director said.

Robert Courteney-Harris said: “This incident was dealt with very swiftly when it happened in 2010. The member of staff was suspended pending our investigation and never returned to work at our trust.”

The public inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, published last week, highlighted the “appalling and unnecessary” suffering of hundreds of patients between 2005 and 2009.

Some were left for hours sitting in their own faeces, food and drink was left out of reach and hygiene was so poor that relatives had to clean toilets themselves.





Readers' comments (9)

  • and people wonder why HCAs should be regulated. why did this go to the NMC, was she on the Register as she was a midwife but working as an HCA? What would have happened had she not been on the Register?

    Is it time that we insisted staff at all grades were properly trained in looking after patients with dementia (or any other speciality) before they are able to care for them?

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  • as above - why was this case dealt with by the NMC?

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  • The reason it was dealt with by the NMC is that even if you work as a HCA but are a qualified nurse you still come under the remit of the NMC code of conduct.

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  • As above, whilst it would appear this person obviously should not be practising as a qualified nurse anywhere, it is the qualified nurse accountable for their care or the organisation vicariously liable for their actions that should be investigated. An HCA, as I understand the current situation, is only accountable to their employer in respects of employment law and not any external body other than civil/criminal law. As the NMC have struggled to achieve what IS within their scope of responsibility I too struggle to understand why they are dealing with this.

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  • further details of this case and why she was investigated by the NMC are in the Telegraph

    "Mid Staffs midwife struck off, but still employed as a carer"

    By Hayley Dixon
    3:42PM GMT 14 Feb 2013

    "Up to 50pc of deaths at Mid-Staffs NHS trust on Care Pathway Photo: GETTY"

    This caption was also under the photograph, a fact I had not read anywhere else or heard mention of in the Francis Report, by the PM or Minster of Health.

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    By Victoria Ward
    11:37AM GMT 12 Feb 2013

    By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
    9:50PM GMT 07 Feb 2013

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  • Susan Markham

    GLENYS BELL | 14-Feb-2013 6:46 pm

    Sorry you are wrong... The NMC currently has no jurisdiction over HCAs.

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2013 1:42 pm
    carrie-ann | 14-Feb-2013 2:05 pm
    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2013 6:54 pm

    Actually she was a Bulgarian-qualified midwife, working as a healthcare support worker while her application to be admitted to the UK Nursing Register was being considered by the NMC.

    So she had her foot in the door (so to speak) but the NMC have now denied her Registration application... obviously as an applicant for registration her case was dealt with by the NMC.

    I'd be surprised if the admit her to the Register now - but (and this is the stupidity of HCAs being unregulated) she will still be able to work as an HCA if she can find another hospital that will employ her.

    HCAs see... no accountability. That's the difference between Registered Nurses and HCAs and APs.

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  • Experience unfair NMC process ...You are not the only one...Your experience is important for us

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  • Great! A supposed 'qualified nurse' giving us HCAs who are fighting for registration a bad name yet again!

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