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Agency nurse struck off for using racial slurs and refusing to help colleagues

Nursing and Midwifery Fitness to Practise report said that nurse Fionnuala O’Neill’s behaviour was that of a ‘bully’ towards patients and colleagues

Nursing and Midwifery Fitness to Practise report said that nurse Fionnuala O’Neill’s behaviour was that of a ‘bully’ towards patients and colleagues

An agency nurse who used derogatory language and called a colleague a ‘lazy b*****d’ for taking a break to pray during Ramadan has been struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Fionnuala O’Neill also referred to a black colleague as ‘Kunta Kinte’, in reference to a slave character in the 1970s novel Roots by Alex Haley, and said of a patient: ‘If he were in the jungle they would be throwing bananas at him’, an NMC Fitness to Practise panel

Nursing and Midwifery Fitness to Practise report said that nurse Fionnuala O’Neill’s behaviour was that of a ‘bully’ towards patients and colleagues

Nurse Fionnuala O’Neill struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council
Picture: Barney Newman

An agency nurse who used derogatory language and called a colleague a ‘lazy b*****d’ for taking a break to pray during Ramadan has been struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Fionnuala O’Neill also referred to a black colleague as ‘Kunta Kinte’, in reference to a slave character in the 1970s novel Roots by Alex Haley, and said of a patient: ‘If he were in the jungle they would be throwing bananas at him’, an NMC Fitness to Practise panel (FtP) heard.

Refused to give patient pain relief for broken leg, Fitness to Practise panel hears

Ms O’Neill was also found to have muted patients’ buzzers, refused to administer pain relief medication, and prevented upholding the dignity of a patient while she roughly inserted a catheter, pushing their legs wide open and moving their sheet while working agency shifts at hospitals run by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

On one occasion she refused to give a patient with a broken leg pain relief, claiming it ‘was just cramp’.

When a patient asked for assistance going to the toilet, she was found to have thrown her hands in the air and said: ‘I’m too bl***y busy’, while working a shift at Daisy Hill Hospital in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The NMC hearing held earlier this month heard how Ms O’Neill refused to help colleagues with tasks, and repeatedly used derogatory language about eastern European patients and patients who had misused drugs and alcohol.

The NMC FtP report said that her behaviour was that of a ‘bully’ towards patients and colleagues.

The colleague who finally raised the alarm over Ms O’Neill’s behaviour 'indicated that she was almost frightened to raise her concerns as she felt threatened by Ms O’Neill and that none of the other staff ever stood up to her or questioned her’, the panel heard.

Colleagues raised concerns over behaviour and complaints from patients

Ms O’Neill had worked as an agency registered nurse between 2016 and 2019 at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and then at Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

The NMC hearing heard how her agency had moved her between the trusts following concerns raised by colleagues at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and complaints from patients.

Ms O’Neill was suspended from working shifts at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in August 2019. She worked her last shift for Southern Health and Social Care Trust in March 2020.

The FtP hearing decided there was a ‘real risk of repetition’ due to Ms O'Neill's ‘lack of insight and remorse’.

She has now been struck off by the NMC and has 28 days to appeal.

Further information

Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practise hearing


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