Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Undercover nurse charges dropped

Margaret Haywood
Margaret Haywood worked undercover on the Panorama documentary

Disciplinary charges against a nurse who took part in secret filming for a BBC documentary at a Brighton hospital have been thrown out at a hearing.

Margaret Haywood, 58, was up before the Nursing and Midwifery Council over her role in the Panorama show in July 2005.

But the panel informed the Liverpool nurse on Thursday there was no case to answer for two allegations she faced.

Undercover Nurse was televised to expose failures in care for the elderly at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

The panel said there was no evidence that Ms Haywood had broken the NHS Trust's whistle-blowing policy by raising "serious concerns" in the media.

'Disclose concerns'

It also ruled there was no case to answer on another allegation, that she failed to assist colleagues when a patient was having a seizure on a ward at the hospital on 20 April 2005.

Ms Haywood has admitted breaching patient confidentiality in relation to the programme, but denies that her fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct.

Panel chairman Linda Read said the panel had considered submissions of representatives of Ms Haywood and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) made midway through the London hearing.

The panel said that under the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust policy for whistle-blowing, Ms Haywood had been entitled to disclose concerns already raised with the trust to the media.

The complaints were about issues such as feeding and hydrating elderly patients, drawing up care plans and administration of pain relief.

Mrs Read said the concerns were also of "an exceptionally serious nature".

I didn't think anybody would actually believe what was going on without the proof to support it
Margaret Haywood

"The failure to deliver basic nursing care to these patients, many of whom were in the last stages of their lives, rendered many of their lives miserable.

"It was so serious especially because it was so fundamental. There was a failure to meet basic human needs.

"The panel does not therefore find that there was any or sufficient evidence upon which it could conclude that there was any reason why she should not report her concerns externally."

The allegations are said to have taken place between 3 November 2004 and 5 May 2005 while Ms Haywood was working as a registered nurse for the trust.

After delivering its findings on Thursday, the hearing went on to consider the breach of confidentiality and whether it meant Ms Haywood's fitness to practise was impaired.

Giving evidence, Ms Haywood said she "was appalled, broken-hearted in fact... about the poor care standards, about the lack of leadership on the ward" at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

She said she wanted to get involved in the BBC documentary as she did not see any other way to prove what was happening in the wards.

"It was neglect we were talking about. I didn't think anybody would actually believe what was going on without the proof to support it."

She added that her duty of care to the patients always came first.

The hearing continues.

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Liverpool Echo Undercover nurse says she was right to blow the whistle over patient care - 8 hrs ago
Liverpool Echo TV nurse is cleared - 21 hrs ago
Rye and Battle Observer Whistleblower nurse 'broken-hearted' at ward conditions - 23 hrs ago
Telegraph Nurse 'entitled to air concerns' - 25 hrs ago

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