Sleeping nurse can still practise

By Rob Cox Thursday 15 May 2014 Updated: 16/05 09:05

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A NURSE who fell asleep on duty and called a colleague a ‘murderer’ has been judged fit to continue practising.

At the time of the alleged incidents between July 2011 and May 2012, Stephanie Cottrill had been working within the elderly care unit at Cherry Trees Care Home near Alcester.

She twice fell asleep outside her scheduled breaks and on one of occasion was alleged to have slept for around seven hours.

Although admitting to falling asleep, Ms Cottrill said she had been unwell and going home would have resulted in there being no registered nurse on duty.

Recognising these “exceptional” circumstances, she was cleared of misconduct in relation to the incident by a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel.

But in asking a colleague how it felt to have murdered a patient, the panel found her actions fell “significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse” and did amount to misconduct.

In evidence submitted to the hearing, the health care assistant said she was greatly upset by the remarks made shortly after the resident in her care had died of a heart attack.

Ms Cottrill admitted making the comment but said she had not intended to upset her colleague and had previously claimed it was said as a joke.

The panel added the comment was disrespectful and not an appropriate way to support a colleague known to be distressed.

Making note of Ms Cottrill’s remorse, and that it appeared to be an isolated incident resulting from an error of judgement, the panel determined fitness to practice had not been impaired.

The nurse had already resigned from her job at the care home after being suspended pending the results of an internal investigation.

At the Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing, charges relating to two further incidents could not be proved.

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