UK psychiatric nurse loses license for striking 77-year-old dementia patient

October 11, 2011

A mental health nurse has been struck off the register for punching a elderly man with dementia.

A disciplinary hearing found Dean Russell Agar had assaulted a 77-year-old mentally ill patient, as well as filling out observation forms without actually carrying out any checks on patients.

He also admitted taking cigarette breaks while being the only nurse on duty at the Montgomery Infirmary in Newtown, Powys, and CCTV footage showed confused mentally ill patients wondering around the facility in the early hours of the morning while Agar was meant to be supervising.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) yesterday banned Agar – who maintains his innocence – from working as a nurse.

Stephen Barker, chairman of the NMC panel said there had been no apology or remorse shown by Agar, even for the admitted allegations.

“The panel also received no positive references or testimonials,” he said.

“The only sufficient sanction is a striking off order,” he added.

Ray Short, representing Agar at the hearing at the Parc Hotel, Cardiff, said the former nurse would continue to deny the allegation of assault.

“He will continue to state that he did not assault this patient and he will take that to his grave.

“He has cared for patients all his life,” he said.

Finding him guilty was a “terrible mistake,” he added.

Agar has not worked as a nurse since the assault in February 2008, when he had been working the night shift at the hospital with a colleague, Avril Hughes. At around 4am on February 20, the patient – described only as ‘Patient A’ – was discovered in the corridor about to urinate near a radiator.

Agar, 50, claimed he and Miss Hughes had each put a hand on one of Patient A’s shoulders and cupped a hand under his elbow to lead him back to the en-suite toilet he had in his bedroom.

But the following day, staff working the day shift found Patient A still in bed in the late hours of the morning, which was “unusual” because he was usually spritely and active, the hearing heard.

Staff said he appeared “sad and scared” and said he had been attacked in the night and had been punched in the stomach and held down.

He said it had been a man who attacked him, while a woman was there too. He added that the man wore glasses – with Agar being the only staff member to match that description.

Community psychiatric nurse Joy Jones examined him and found no obvious marks. But when examined by a doctor four days later, there was visible bruising in the areas the patient claimed to have been punched.

Under investigation, Agar said he though some of the bruises were caused by Patient A, “falling over” or being assaulted by other patients.

He said that if he had punched Patient A he “would have killed him”.

The hearing had expected to hear live evidence from Miss Hughes – but she failed to show “without a reasonable excuse,” the panel said.

In a written statement read to the hearing she said: “I emphatically deny that I abused any individual in my care or witnessed any assault.”

She added: “I would have had no hesitation in reporting Dean.”

But the panel said that her failure to attend the hearing, added to the fact she was close to Agar meant “very little weight” could be given to her evidence.

Agar now has 28 days to appeal the decision – but Mr Short said he had “no intention” of ever working as a nurse again.

Source: "Mental health nurse struck off for punching elderly dementia sufferer," Wales Online, October 5, 2011.


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