Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 18:11 UK

Minister criticises nurse verdict

Margaret Haywood
Margaret Haywood was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council

Health minister Ben Bradshaw has condemned the decision to strike off a nurse who secretly filmed care for the elderly at a Sussex hospital.

Margaret Haywood, 58, filmed at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for a BBC Panorama programme in July 2005.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council struck her off for failing to follow her "obligations as a nurse".

Mr Bradshaw said he agreed with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) that the decision was "unduly harsh".

During a debate in Westminster Hall, Mr Bradshaw said having studied the ruling, said: "I have to say I agree with the RCN's position."

Considering appeal

However, he said for the Nursing and Midwifery Council decision to be overturned there would have to an appeal to the High Court.

Footage from Ms Haywood's filming showed examples of neglect including an elderly patient sitting in clothes he had soiled the night before.

More than 14,000 people signed a petition set up by the Royal College of Nursing in support of her after she was struck off, within a week of the programme being broadcast.

She was found guilty of misconduct following a fitness to practise hearing in April.

The panel said she "followed the behest of the filmmakers... rather than her obligations as a nurse".

Linda Read, who chaired the panel, said Ms Haywood had prioritised the filming, which in the view of the panel "was a major breach of the code of conduct".

Ms Haywood, who had been a nurse for more than 20 years, said she thought she had been treated harshly and had put patients first.

The former nurse, from Liverpool, is considering appealing against the decision.

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