Nurse who drank and took sleeping tablets while on duty at a Chatteris care home is ‘struck off’
- Credit: Archant
A nurse who drank alcohol and took sleeping tablets while working a night shift at a Chatteris care home has been struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Lynn Rivera, did not attend the conduct and competence hearing held in London on September 29, but admitted her behaviour on the night of June 26 2015 at Swan House in Chatteris amounted to serious professional misconduct.
Phillip Law, counsel for the NMC, outlined the charges:
• That Ms Rivera consumed alcohol whilst on shift - a partly consumed bottle of wine was found in her handbag and around two thirds appeared to have been drunk.
• She also took Zopiclone - sleeping pills - whilst at work. These belonged to a resident who had recently died and were the property of Swan House.
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• She was unfit for duty either through alcohol or drug consumption.
• Her actions in taking the medication was dishonest.
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The panel heard Ms Rivera, who qualified as a nurse in March 1979 and as a midwife in February 1989, was staff nurse at Swan House and had been employed there home since April 2014.
She was the only nurse on duty on June 26 and was responsible for the direct care of residents.
Her 12 hour shift started at 8pm but by 10.30pm she was complaining of jetlag as she had just returned from a holiday to America.
Mr Law said she then went for a break in the staff lounge. During the 1am to 2am bed round check she spoke to another member of staff in an “incoherent manner” and the colleague could smell alcohol on Ms Rivera.
She was found on her hands moving furniture after responding to a resident’s bell and Mr Law told the committee Ms Rivera’s colleague then went to the staff lounge and discovered the opened bottle of wine in Ms Rivera’s handbag and contacted the home manager at around 3am.
When questioned by the home manager Ms Rivera denied drinking and blamed her condition on having taken Zopiclone, which she then changed to Nytol - but packets of Zopiclone were also found in her bag when it was searched by the home manager.
In a signed statement on August 3 2016 Ms Rivera admitted all the charges. The panel also heard she accepted that “in consuming substances that rendered her unfit for duty, she exposed herself, her colleagues and the residents to risk of harm.”
The hearing was told Ms Rivera has stated she no longer intends to work as a healthcare professional.
“She also recognises that her misconduct is so serious that the public interest would be adversely affected if no finding of impairment were made by her professional regulator,” the hearing heard.
Ms Rivera had prepared a ‘short reflective piece’ in which she expressed remorse for her actions and acknowledged the seriousness of them but made no further comment.
Mr Law said the mitigating factors were that Ms Rivera fully accepted the facts and her impairment and “the fact of her difficult personal circumstances at the time of the night in question.”
The panel accepted the risk of repetition remains “very high” and Mr Law said both parties agreed the “appropriate and proportionate” sanction is a striking off order.
It was also agreed it was necessary “in the public interest” for there to be an interim suspension order of 18 months to cover any appeal period.