"Although the conditions on the ward were dreadful, it was not necessary to breach confidentiality to seek to improve them by the method chosen.
She said the misconduct was "fundamentally incompatible with being a nurse".
"The registrant could have attempted to address shortcomings by other means. But this was never a course of action which she fully considered."
Ms Haywood had admitted breaching patient confidentiality but denied her fitness to practise had been impaired.
This makes total nonsense of all the talk about openness and transparency in the NHS. Cover-up is the order of the game
Joyce Robins, Patient Concern
Elizabeth Bloor, the BBC programme's producer, told the hearing there had been "an over-arching public interest" to produce the Undercover Nurse documentary because Panorama had received up to 5,000 complaints about conditions.
In November the panel found no evidence that Ms Haywood broke the NHS Trust's policy on whistle-blowing by raising concerns about patient care in the documentary, or that she failed to assist colleagues when a patient was having a seizure.
A BBC spokesman said: "There was clearly a strong public interest in revealing that some elderly people were not receiving the level of care we expect from our national health service.
"Panorama believes that Margaret Haywood has done the elderly population of this country a great service."
'Right and proper'
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said its code of conduct stated that surreptitious means of gaining information were permissible in the public interest, and the same should apply to whistle-blowers.
Tim Gopsill, of the NUJ, said: "Sometimes the only way to get anything done is to go to the media. No-one could possibly argue that this story was not in the public interest."
The panel's ruling was also criticised by Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern.
She said: "This just demonstrates the priorities of the regulators - rules come before patients every time. The message that goes out to nurses is: however badly you see patients treated, keep your face shut.
"This makes total nonsense of all the talk about openness and transparency in the NHS. Cover-up is the order of the game."
Ms Haywood's actions were also defended by Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse.
He said: "We know that we're seeing older people suffering the most appalling care and neglect too often in our care environments.
"In that context I believe what Margaret Haywood did and what Panorama did was right and proper."
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