The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Conduct and Competence Committee removed a registered nurse from the NMC’s register having found her fitness to practise was impaired after pictures were found of her with a respite care patient who has severe learning difficulties.
The Committee heard how a number of photographs of Mrs Baldwin, who was deputy manager, had been discovered by her employers at the Bryn Siriol Respite Unit in Aberystwyth. The photographs showed Mrs Baldwin hiding underneath the patient’s duvet whilst he was in bed. They also showed Mrs Baldwin and the patient hugging and holding hands, ‘displaying the ‘v’ sign’ and the patient trying to kiss Mrs Baldwin on the cheek.
It was alleged by the NMC that Mrs Baldwin had failed to follow care plans and/or risk assessments; had failed to actively promote clear sexual boundaries at all times; had allowed staff to breach the behavioural risk assessment and management plan and had failed to seek medical advice after another patient refused medication on four dates in 2010. Mrs Baldwin left her position at the facility in October 2010 before the pictures were discovered.
In her response to the allegations raised against her, Mrs Baldwin claimed that she had been “playing a game of hide and seek when she was photographed hiding under the patient’s duvet” and that she “strongly refuted any suggestion of sexual activity and impeding the choice of a vulnerable adult”. She went on to state in her written submissions to the Committee that “the mere suggestion of sexual activity or sexual arousal was ‘abhorrent’ and was ‘wholly untrue’”. She did however reflect on events stating that she had, in part, “crossed professional boundaries”.
In reaching its decision to remove Mrs Baldwin from the nursing register, the Committee concluded that “many of the photographs displayed an inappropriate physical intimacy between Mrs Baldwin and the patient which included hugging, holding hands and being physically close on the same bed together”. The Committee went on to state that Mrs Baldwin’s actions amounted to “misconduct of a serious nature which had brought the nursing profession into disrepute”.
Mrs Baldwin did not attend her hearing at the NMC having instead chosen to provide the Committee with extensive written submissions. In cases as serious as that of Mrs Baldwin, it is always advisable for the registrant to attend their hearing and to be legally represented by a specialist.
By Paul Burrows, Trainee Solicitor, Regulatory Department.