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Nurses falsified emergency waiting times ‘under orders’

NMC panel finds serious misconduct, but won’t take further action because there was a culture of ‘intimidation and bullying’ at trust.

Two senior nurses who falsified emergency department waiting time figures amid a climate of ‘intimidation and bullying’ have been spared further action by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Associate director of nursing Naomi Holder admitted three charges of recording false waiting time figures while working as a matron at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s emergency department between 2008 and 2009.

Fellow nurse Harry Clough admitted three charges relating to falsification of patient records while working as a band 7 clinical nurse manager in the same department between 2007 and 2009.

Serious misconduct

An NMC fitness to practise hearing last week found that while both nurses’ actions amounted to serious misconduct, they were carried out under the direction of more senior staff.

The panel told Ms Holder: ‘None of your actions were driven by any intention to put patients at risk of harm, but occurred under the direction of senior staff in a climate of intimidation and bullying so as to improve trust performance figures.’

The hearing comes 7 years after the trust’s casualty manager and director of nursing and midwifery were investigated and dismissed for gross misconduct, after an internal investigation into falsified waiting time figures.

Mr Clough, who said he felt ‘powerless’ to speak out about falsification of records at the time, now works in a band 5 post with less clinical responsibility. The panel heard this was Mr Clough’s choice as a result of ‘reflection on the incidents’.

Ms Holder has since been promoted to associate director of nursing at the trust.

No restrictions

The hearing panel chose not to place any restrictions on Ms Holder’s fitness to practise, saying she had shown genuine remorse for her actions.

The NMC panel added that Mr Clough’s actions were carried in the context of a bullying culture, and placed no restrictions on his fitness to practise.

A Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: ‘The trust has received the findings of the NMC and is aware that this case is now closed.

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