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Friday, 14 July, 2000, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
NHS 'employed killer nurse'
Old Bailey
The Old Bailey heard flaws in NHS employment procedures
A nurse who showed signs of dangerous behaviour was allowed to remain working in the NHS until he killed colleague, a court was told.

A judge at the Old Bailey in London expressed "grave concern" after being told that 34-year-old Mlungisi Tshabangu obtained and kept jobs in the NHS.

Tshabangu, who worked as a nurse in Bromley Hospital, Kent, has denied murdering 34-year-old car assistant Lee Field on 12 February this year.

However, he admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, saying he was suffering from paranoid psychosis at the time.

The court was told that Tshabangu was trained in South Africa and first came to the UK on a scheme run by the NHS to recruit staff from overseas.

It also heard that he had a history of abusive behaviour in previous jobs before being employed at Bromley and had secured successive jobs on the basis of a telephone reference.

Ferocious onslaught

Tshabangu started working in Bromley in October 1999. His victim, Mr Field, who was described as a "loveable rascal" had been working there for eight years.

The court was told that Tshabangu attacked Mr Field from behind in a "ferocious onslaught" in which he slashed the victim 25 times.

It causes grave concern that a man like this is not only able to obtain but retain jobs in the NHS

Mrs Justice Hallett

"Another nurse expressed surprise his head was still attached to his body after seeing the nature of the neck injuries inflicted," said Aftab Jafferjee, prosecuting.

"Even by this court's standards these were terrible injuries," he added.

Mrs Justice Hallett remanded Tshabangu for sentence later this month. But she expressed concern that he had been able to remain working in the NHS despite his previous behaviour.

"It causes grave concern that a man like this defendant showing increasing signs of dangerous behaviour is not only able to obtain but retain jobs in the NHS."

Mr Jafferjee said Bromley Hospital had launched an inquiry into the case and that other bodies were inquiring into procedures of recruitment from abroad.

The judge expressed concern that NHS employers accepted telephone references and about the lack of a register of violent incidences.

"There seems to be no national register when violent incidents occur. They are not relayed to a second hospital. That causes me enormous concern," she said.

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17 Jan 00 | Health
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