By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 23 August 2013 Updated: 27/08 08:59
A MENTAL health nurse put patients at risk after viewing websites about the abuse of prisoners, rape and torture methods while at work, a conduct hearing has ruled.
Bryan Neal Harris, who had worked at Hillcrest Mental Health Unit on the site of the Alexandra Hospital for 24 years, was struck off the nursing register after the Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing this month (August).
It was found Mr Harris’ behaviour, which saw him use a work computer to view videos of bad car accidents, trailers for horror films and websites about the history of the SS, was ‘a serious departure from good practice and put his patients at harm’.
He did not attend the hearing and is thought to be living in South Africa following a Trust disciplinary hearing in 2011 during which he alleged two of his colleagues had used his computer to view the sites.
However, witnesses at the hearing told the panel staff were automatically logged out of the system after five minutes and neither of the staff members had been working on the dates the websites had been viewed.
It was ruled Mr Harris accessed inappropriate internet sites while on duty between July 2, 2010 and January 12 the following year, as well as a further charge of asking a healthcare assistant to dispense medication unsupervised without performing an assessment of the patients.
The report said by spending so much time on the internet, Mr Harris would not have been able to fulfil his nursing duties and his patients would have suffered as a result.
“The nature of the sites accessed by Mr Harris was such as to undermine confidence in his suitability to care for vulnerable patients.
“The panel concluded that his behaviour was irresponsible and put patients at risk of harm.
“His behaviour in accessing inappropriate internet sites whilst at work brought the profession into disrepute.”
When deciding whether to strike Mr Harris off the register, the panel said he had ‘a lack of insight into the seriousness of his behaviour’ so if he was in a similar situation again they felt there was a risk he would repeat his conduct.
A Trust spokesman said: “We have very clear policies on the use of the internet and any member of staff who is found to be using it inappropriately or excessively will face disciplinary action.
“Cases like this are extremely rare for our Trust and the vast majority of our staff act in accordance with the policy and the guidelines provided.”
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