Hospice nurse struck off for ‘misconduct’

The Prince of Wales Hospice.
The Prince of Wales Hospice.

A hospice nurse who administered controlled drugs to patients without following procedures has been banned from the profession.

Julie Dawn Smales was suspended last year after admitting charges relating to her time working at Pontefract’s Prince of Wales Hospice before 2016, following a Nursing and Midwifery council hearing (NMC).

Now, after failing to attend a review hearing as her suspension was set to expire, she has been struck off the register by an NMC panel which has called her misconduct serious and “dishonest”.

Mrs Smales previously admitted signing the hospice’s controlled drugs book, wrongly indicating that she was present during the administration of the drug.

The NMC also ruled that she prepared a controlled drug without another registered nurse present.

The panel determined that given the passage of time since the incidents, which were in August/September 2015 and January 2016, and the lack of engagement, Mrs Smales has shown a persistent lack of insight.

The misconduct charges related to “more than one occasion” at the Halfpenny Lane hospice, prior to January 2016.

The NMC panel judgement added: “Further, she has apparently made no attempt at remediation, has produced no reflection and has produced no evidence to explain why that is the case.”

Mrs Smales did not attend the review hearing but the NMC said she was sent a tracked written notice, that was signed for last month.

In its judgement, published following the NMc hearing, the panel said: “The panel took into account that the incidents which led to the finding of misconduct were serious relating to not following the correct procedures when administering controlled drugs and dishonesty.”

Following the judgement, Jo Schofield, head of clinical services at the Prince of Wales Hospice, said: “The hospice became aware of a breach of its controlled drugs policy.

“This matter was taken extremely seriously as patient safety is always the Hospice’s highest priority.

“The hospice referred the matter to the NMC and has engaged fully with their fitness to practice investigation.”