Tribunal caution for ‘direct’ nurse

A nurse who reduced a 70-year-old patient to tears because she asked to go to the toilet has been told she can continue working without restriction.

Brenda Mcdonald allegedly told the pensioner: “Don’t turn the water works on with me,” after she burst into tears on Rosemary Ward at Newmarket Community Hospital in Exning Road,

Two colleagues heard her demanding: “Why are you not helping me more? Why don’t you help us,” as she tried to manoeuvre the patient into the hoist, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard. Mcdonald then roughly handled her and shoved her legs into a hoist on July 5, 2011.

The tribunal heard the patient would demand help when she used the toilet and seek more general assistance than other patients.

Mcdonald, who was not present at the tribunal in London, had made no admissions to the charges that she was verbally abusive towards the patient or that she handled her in a rough manner.

But the panel found the allegations proved on the balance of probability and was not satisfied that McDonald had appreciated the consequences of her actions or had remedied her way of working so as to no longer pose a risk to patients.

Its concern was further exacerbated by the fact that McDonald had expressed no remorse, nor was apologetic to Patient A in her resignation letter or in the hospital investigation. The panel noted that she continually referred to her manner as being to ‘say things as I see them.’

Imposing a caution order for two years, the panel concluded that the misconduct was “at the lower end of the spectrum of impaired fitness to practise” and was satisfied a caution order would provide adequate protection to the public.

McDonald is now able to return to unrestricted practice but the caution will appear as a mark on her record to future employers.

Nick Smith-Howell, who investigated the allegations, had told the tribunal that Mcdonald admitted her tone could be perceived as threatening during an interview in August 2011.

“She freely admitted that it was her manner to be direct with people, she did not see what the issue was with her challenging a demanding patient,’ he said.

He said he had explored issues that may have provided mitigating reasons why Mcdonald was abusive to the patient, but failed to find any good reason.

“I don’t think she felt that she needed to change her behaviour,” he said.