A NURSE who repeatedly turned up for work at a former Kirkcaldy hospital under the influence of drugs has been struck off.
On several occasions Lisa Cunningham reported for duty with slurred speech at Forth Park Hospital’s gynaecology ward and one colleague described her as being “off her face”.
After a hearing in Edinburgh last week, Ms Cunningham - who was sacked by NHS Fife and has not worked as a nurse since 2007 - was removed from the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which prohibts her from practising as a nurse.
An NMC competence and conduct committee heard she had allowed one patient’s oxygen cylinder to run out and discharged another despite being told the patient was unfit to be released. The committee found her guilty of serious misconduct.
It said: “Ms Cunningham’s failings put patients at risk and had the potential to cause patient harm. She clearly breached the code of conduct and her actions could have had serious consequences for those under her care.”
Cunningham did not attend the hearing but in a written statement presented, she claimed she had been taking slimming pills, eating little and going through a difficult time in her personal life.
She began working at Forth Park in 2002 and colleagues raised concerns in 2005 when her attitude changed and her behaviour became erratic.
A senior charge nurse told the committee Cunningham had previously taken pride in her appearance but in November 2005 she began arriving in a dishevelled state with her uniform unironed and her hair unwashed.
She attended for duty at the hospital four times under the influence of drugs, in November 2005 and February and April 2007. She also turned up for work late repeatedly and disappeared from the ward.
On one occasion Cunningham had failed to transfer a patient from a temporary to a permanent oxygen supply and to hand her care over to another nurse.
Another nurse then saw the empty oxygen cylinder and told the committee the lack of oxygen could have had serious consequences.
When Cunningham returned, a colleague described her as agitated and said her speech was slurred.
Referring to Cunningham’s claim she had been taking slimming pills, the committee said: “This could have had an effect on her ability to function properly.”
While Cunningham apologised and offered some explanation for her behaviour, the committee said there was no evidence of remediation.
It concluded: “It is not appropriate for her to remain on the register without restriction.”