South Ayrshire nurse struck off for patient neglect

A NURSE with an unblemished career of more than two decades at Ayr Hospital has been struck off after allegedly leaving a patient to lie in his own waste.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing on September 12 heard allegations of neglect and bullying against Linda McDonald, a senior staff nurse with a 22-year employment record at Ayr Hospital.

Three members of the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee heard how, on her October 12/13 2009 night shift, Mrs McDonald had not attended to the care needs of a patient with faecal incontinence.

She had also allegedly instructed her colleagues to leave him to “sit in his s***”.

A nursing auxiliary at Ayr Hospital told the panel that during the staff handover the following morning Mrs McDonald told staff the patient had been incontinent overnight, and that she had “just let the dirty b****** lie in it.”

In her witness statement a nursing assistant said she saw Mrs McDonald speaking aggressively about the patient, who had an active infection and was on antibiotics, and she had sworn at him.

Mrs McDonald did not attend the hearing, which was held at the NMC’s Old Bailey office in London, but the panel considered evidence from an earlier disciplinary hearing at which she had reportedly admitted her actions were unacceptable.

The panel heard there was “no doubt” that she had used abusive language and an aggressive tone in relation to her patient.

Mrs McDonald also faced an additional charge of bullying a colleague in or around November 2008, falsely telling her she had to repay a £3000 overpayment in only two weeks, and asking the same colleague words to the effect of “is everyone you know dying?” in 2007 following the death of two close family members.

The nursing auxiliary to whom these comments were made told the panel she became ill after being informed of her alleged overpayment, and “was unable to stop crying for a period of time afterwards”.

The panel found Mrs McDonald’s conduct below the standard expected of a registered nurse, and said she had failed to act in a way that justifies the trust and confidence the public had in her.

Her actions were deemed to represent a serious departure from the NMC Code of Conduct, and the decision was taken that due to her misconduct Mrs McDonald was unfit to practice.

Despite mitigating factors including an underlying medical condition and “tragic” family circumstances, the panel made a striking-off order against Mrs McDonald preceded by an 18-month suspension order to allow for the appeal process.

Patricia Leiser, human resources director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “Our patients deserve the best possible care from our staff at all times.

“If care standards are not being met, we would immediately conduct a thorough internal investigation into any concerns.”