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Dishonest, but not impaired.

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Dishonest, but not impaired.


22 May 2017

The Inner House has a refused an appeal by the Professional Standards Authority against the acquittal of a nurse who admitted dishonesty.

In the case of PSA v NMC and SM, the nurse (SM) had admitted dishonest destruction of drugs and fabrication of drugs records in an attempt to cover up a mistake which she had made. The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Fitness to Practice Committee noted that she admitted dishonesty, but still required to consider whether or not her fitness to practise was “impaired”. Given the lapse of time between the offence and the hearing, the fact that this was an isolated act of misconduct at a time of personal stress, and her otherwise impeccable record, the Committee found no impairment. The result was that, despite the admitted misconduct, SM fell to be acquitted.

The PSA appealed to the Inner House, arguing that the dishonesty mandated a finding of impairment. The NMC joined in the appeal, agreeing with the PSA. However, the Inner House refused the appeal, holding that the judgment of the specialist tribunal required significant respect, and that no material error could be seen in its approach. The Court did, however, suggest that the PSA and NMC might wish to consider an overhaul of the statutory scheme, such that (as is possible in other health professions) a disciplinary finding might be made even where there is no current impairment of fitness to practise.

The full decision can be read at https://tinyurl.com/la8u6f5. Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom acted for the successful nurse.