UK psychiatric nurse failed to notice that the patient was dead

May 7, 2012

Mental health nurse Christopher James Westwood is also alleged to have delayed an urgent ambulance trip to A&E for another patient so that he could finish his coffee and go to the toilet, putting the patient at risk. The allegations relate to time that Mr Westwood worked on ward three at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, which is a mental health ward for the over-65s, and at the specialist dementia unit Maple Villa, at NHS Lothian’s Craigshill Care Facility.

Among the charges due to be put to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Conduct and Competence Committee are that, in one incident, he “failed to realise the patient had died” and “had to be informed the patient had died by a member of the domestic staff”.

It is also claimed that when the nurse was asked to accompany a patient from another unit who was “very unwell” to casualty, he “failed to comprehend the urgency of the situation,” “delayed the departure of the ambulance by finishing [his] coffee and going to the toilet” and “put patient F at unnecessary risk”. Numerous other allegations facing the band five registered nurse include giving a psychiatric in- patient a copy of her notes, which included a diagnosis she had not been informed of.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place on a range of dates from 2008 to 2010, when he was sacked by NHS Lothian.

The health board’s nurse director, Melanie Hornett, said: “This person is no longer a member of our staff and was dismissed in 2010. As this case is the subject of an NMC hearing it would be inappropriate to comment further.” His conduct will be discussed at a private meeting of the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee in London on May 17, where it will be alleged that his fitness to practice was “impaired by reason of [his] misconduct – and lack of competence”.

A spokeswoman for the NMC said it didn’t comment on cases which were pending a decision.

It is the latest in a series of NMC hearings against nurses from the Lothians, including Veronica Duncan, 46, from Tranent, East Lothian, who was struck off by the NMC last month after she pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to falsely claiming almost £9000 in housing benefit.

Mr Westwood declined to comment when approached by the Evening News.

Source: Sue Gyford, "Nurse ‘failed to see patient had died’," The Scotsman, May 7, 2012.


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