Conduct and Competence Committee Panel – 26 & 27 July 2010
NMC v Ms RLB
The hearing proceeded in the absence of RLB. The panel was satisfied that the Notice of Hearing had been served on her in accordance with the rules. The registrant had not indicated an intention to appear, nor had she sought an adjournment.
The Panel found that she entered into sexual relationship with patient A; failed to inform her manager of her sexual relationship with patient A; and failed to maintain professional boundaries with Patient A.
The registrant had admitted entering into a sexual relationship with Patient A. She had told Staff Nurse LB about her relationship with Patient A and Staff Nurse LB had advised her, on a number of occasions, to inform Management as this relationship appeared inappropriate and contrary to the NMC Code of Professional Conduct. The registrant’s manager was first informed of the relationship by the patient’s clinical psychologist. The nature of the relationship was not specified. At the initial meeting between the manager and the registrant the registrant failed the mention that her relationship with patient A was sexual. The registrant then sent text messages to Patient A which were personal in nature, failing to maintain professional boundaries with Patient A.
Patient A was a young man with cystic fibrosis on a specialist respiratory ward that the registrant worked on. The registrant was actively involved in his care. For four months the registrant engaged in a sexual relationship with the patient. Although the relationship was consensual the patient was particularly vulnerable by reason of his serious medical condition and his relative social isolation. He was reliant on visits from his family, mainly at weekends.
The registrant was found to have breached the NMC Code of professional Conduct 2004 at section 1.2 and section 2.3
The registrant had supplied the Panel with written representations which displayed remorse for an a degree of insight into her actions. The Panel concluded that despite the registrant’s expressions of remorse and the fact that this conduct has not been repeated this is not conduct which is easily remediable. The violation of the fundamental rule governing the nurse-patient relationship is so serious that the panel was satisfied that the registrant’s fitness to practise was currently impaired.
When considering sanction the panel concluded that, although serious, the registrant’s misconduct was not fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register. ‘There have been no previous NMC proceedings against the registrant and there is nothing to indicate any similar subsequent repetition of this misconduct. Moreover, the relationship with the patient was apparently consensual and occurred over a relatively short period of time. The registrant has expressed remorse and displayed a degree of insight. There is nothing to indicate that the registrant is anything other than a competent nurse.’
Ms RLB was suspended from the register for 12 months.