Suspended: Former Wisbech and Ely nurse who gave patient second-hand bed sheets as a gift

A FORMER Wisbech and Ely nurse who gave a patient second-hand bed sheets as a gift has been suspended from the profession for a year.

Maria Elena Garner refused to attend Thursday’s hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Conduct and Competence Committee. She said the process was a “waste of everyone’s time and money” as she had retired from nursing in 2009.

But, in her absence, the panel deemed her fitness to practise was impaired by her misconduct.

They ruled that Garner, a nurse since 1968, had given a mother homeopathic drugs for her baby in exchange for money while working at Horsefair Clinic, in Wisbech, in 2007.

She told a colleague that because the mother had “financial difficulties” she could get the drugs for �4.50 from her rather than �7.50 at the chemist.

Garner failed to carry out an adequate assessment, failed to record the incident and incorrectly attempted to supply Chamomilla tablets.

The panel also ruled that, while working at Ely health visiting team in 2008, Garner had breached professional standards by giving a service user second-hand bed sheets as a gift.

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She had not kept clear and accurate records in relation to the patient, failing to make a note of conversations about scarring to her arm. She also did not explain why it was necessary for the patient to go to the clinic every two weeks.

Further allegations that Garner failed to assess a patient’s mental health needs, personal history and reaction to her baby and/or being a mother were “found not proved”.

Garner had written to the panel in May to tell them she did not intend to come to the hearing.

She said: “I retired in March 2009 and have no intention of returning to any medical/nursing occupation. I have not renewed my NMC registration and feel the whole proceed [sic] is a waste of everyone’s time and money.”

The panel heard live evidence from Garner’s former colleagues in Wisbech and Ely before reaching their decision.

They noted that Garner had admitted giving a patient second-hand bed sheets as a gift. She claimed this had been “common practice” when she had worked in Wisbech.

The panel concluded that Garner had “acted so as to put a patient at unwarranted risk of harm, had brought the profession into disrepute and had breached one of the fundamental tenets of the profession, namely, putting patients first.”

They considered that some of her actions were “well intentioned” and that she had a previously unblemished nursing history. In relation to the poor record-keeping, she had claimed to have been over-worked.

The panel suspended Garner from nursing for 12 months. They also imposed an interim suspension order of 18 months - in order to allow for any appeal process. Garner has 28 days to appeal.