Nurse suspended over relationship with patient of Perth hospital

A mental health nurse found to have formed an “unprofessional” relationship with a patient after they were admitted to a Perthshire hospital has been suspended from working for six months by regulators.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) decided to sanction Norah Jane Lily Wilson after she admitted failing to maintain professional boundaries with the female over a period of three months while working for NHS Tayside.

A panel heard the relationship started shortly after the woman was admitted to the acute admissions unit at Murray Royal Hospital in December 2018 where Wilson treated her for depression, low mood and suicidal thinking.

According to a report published by the NMC after the panel’s consideration of the case Wilson went on to give the patient a lift home from Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) two months later then visited her home the same month.

The report said the pair also exchanged messages on social media on various dates between February and April that year and during those three months Wilson never once told her employer about the contact she was having with the patient.

The document said supervisors only became aware of the relationship after the patient was taken to PRI on April 28 over concern she had taken an overdose of painkillers and anti-depressants.

The report, which identified the patient only as Patient A, said the woman went on to tell a crisis team she had been in a relationship with Wilson but it had recently ended prompting NHS Tayside to conduct an internal investigation into the matter.

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An agreed statement of facts contained in the NMC report said: “The parties agree that on the available evidence it is apparent that an unprofessional relationship grew between Patient A and Ms Wilson.

“The extent of that relationship cannot be known and should not be speculated upon.

“On the evidence all that can be said is that Ms Wilson drove Patient A home from PRI on one occasion, socialized with Patient A on two occasions in Patient A’s home … and exchanged social media communication with Patient A over a number of months . All of this is accepted by Ms Wilson.

“It could be reasonably inferred from the available evidence that Ms Wilson knew that the contact she was having with Patient A was in breach of professional boundaries and that this is why she failed to inform her employer.

“Ms Wilson accepts that such an inference would be accurate. She knew she should not be having the contact she was having with Patient A.”

The NMC report concluded Wilson’s actions between February and April 2019 fell “significantly short” of the standards expected of a registered nurse.

“The panel finds that patients were put at risk of harm as a result of misconduct and your misconduct had breached the fundamental tenets of the nursing profession and therefore brought its reputation into disrepute,” it said.

“The panel determined that a finding of impairment on public interest grounds is required because you did not conduct yourself in a way in which the public would expect of a registered nurse.

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“The panel has considered this case very carefully and has decided to make a suspension order for a period of six months. The effect of this order is that the NMC register will show that your registration has been suspended.”

An NHS Tayside spokeswoman commented yesterday: “This person is no longer employed by NHS Tayside.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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