Nurse struck off for pinning 88-year-old dementia sufferer against Fife hospital wall given ‘second chance’ to return to nursing
A nurse struck off for pinning an 88-year-old dementia sufferer up against a wall in a Fife hospital has been given the opportunity to return to the profession, subject to fulfilling various conditions.
Mental health nurse Vicki Anne Thom (formerly Fenton), who was employed by NHS Fife, was found by a nursing watchdog to have grabbed and pushed the woman against a wall and held her there, causing her to fall to the ground, at Stratheden Hospital near Cupar in September 2011.
The misconduct panel also determined she failed to promptly inform her employer that police had charged her with assault in relation to the incident. They also found that, a month beforehand, Mrs Thom had administered a laxative suppository to another patient at the hospital when it had not been prescribed.
But Mrs Thom, whose area of registered address is now listed as England, applied to be restored to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register from which she was removed in November 2013.
In a report following a fitness to practise committee restoration hearing on February 11, her previous actions were referred to as having potentially “serious consequences” for the patients in her care.
The report said: “Your treatment of a vulnerable, frail and elderly woman who had dementia and presented with associated behavioural problems was unacceptable. No patient should be subjected to the form of aggression and retaliation that you displayed.
“The panel also finds that you demonstrated dishonesty and an intention to deceive your employers by withholding the fact that you had been charged with assault.”
But in her evidence to the restorative hearing this month, Mrs Thom said she was sorry for her actions and felt remorseful every day and had learned from her mistakes.
She also wants to return to nursing in elderly care and has spoken with a manager at a local nursing home who would offer her a position and support her return to nursing practice.
Mrs Thom has also made enquiries with Dundee University about undertaking a ‘return to practice’ course.
And she said that, if faced with a similar set of circumstances, she would remove herself from the situation, raise the alarm and seek assistance.
She said she regretted her actions and had let herself down and “let other people down.”
A panel considering her application allowed it with a ‘conditions of practice order’ for a year.
The panel found Mrs Thom demonstrated “sufficient insight” into her failings and was able to articulate how she would act differently if faced with a similar situation in future.
They said the order would help ensure a supportive and structured return to practice and that a well-informed member of the public would accept she had learned from past conduct and that it would be appropriate to allow her a “second chance.”
Upon returning to work she must be supervised by a registered nurse and must not administer medication unsupervised until she is signed off by a registered nurse as competent to do so.
She must also work with her line manager to create a personal development plan which covers medication management, record keeping and de-escalation techniques.
The NMC must also be informed of where she is working or studying and any clinical incidents or disciplinary proceedings concerning her.