A mental health nurse, Ms Melanie Milner, appeared before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) last week after she was accused of taking 27 cans worth around £9 from a vending machine and sharing them with her colleagues when she inserted £1 into the faulty machine.
The Panel deemed it appropriate to impose a 12 month Caution Order in order to send a clear message to the public and the profession about the standard of behaviour expected of a registered nurse.
Ms Milner, who worked for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, also received a police caution for theft in 2011 and was reinstated to the Trust after appealing her dismissal for gross misconduct.
Cases involving allegations of dishonesty are considered extremely serious by any professional regulator. It is important to note that case law in this area has suggested that where a registrant does not attend their fitness to practise hearing to demonstrate real insight and remorse for the dishonest conduct and provide the hearing Committee with an undertaking that such conduct will not be repeated in the future, the registrant will usually lose their small chance of avoiding a striking-off order.
The Panel in this case was satisfied that Ms Milner had demonstrated insight into her actions and how they impact on the profession and her colleagues, which is clearly reflected in their choice of sanction.
The NMC publishes the outcomes of their fitness to practise hearings on their website and it can be seen from many of those decisions that nurses or midwives who are struck off the NMC register are often unrepresented or fail to make an adequate response to the Committee, particularly in dishonesty cases.
It will always be in a registrant’s best interests to attend their hearing and be legally represented by a specialist professional discipline lawyer.
By Laura Hannah
We understand how stressful and daunting these fitness to practise proceedings can be and our specialist lawyers can ensure that your case is effectively managed to put you in the best possible position at your fitness to practise hearing. If you have been referred to your professional regulator, call our specialist solicitors now on 0845 002 0736.