A FORMER nursing manager at Lennel Housing Nursing Home near Coldstream has been disciplined for leaving a double shift to get morphine for his sick wife.
David Robinson (54) left Lennel House for 20 minutes because his wife urgently needed the painkiller.
At the time he was the only nurse on duty, and he told a groundsman to “hold the fort” with two care assistants.
Appearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Robinson was given a one-year caution order for what the panel accepted was an “isolated incident” and he has been allowed to continue to practise.
Mr Robinson, who now lives in Norfolk and works as a vocational learning assessor, told the hearing his wife had recently undergone surgery and was in “severe pain”.
He had been warned not to leave her alone and told the fitness to practise panel that he had been due to finish work at 4pm on the day of the incident (February 12, 2008), but the nurse scheduled to relieve him had called in sick forcing him to work a double shift.
Both of his managers at home-owner Guardian Care (UK) Ltd were on sick leave and could not be contacted.
“This was clearly an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career and there is a low risk of repetition” said the panel chairman, Judith Worthington.
The panel issued a formal warning for his “serious error of judgement” in leaving the home without a qualified nurse on site, Ms Worthington, saying that his actions “had the potential to compromise the health, safety and wellbeing of vulnerable patients”.
“We are firmly of the view that he failed to put the safety and interests of his patients before the needs of his wife,” said Ms Worthington.
However, she added: “Mr Robinson is a highly competent nurse who was largely instrumental in making significant changes to the organisation of Lennel House resulting in the status being upgraded to a registered nursing home.
“This was clearly an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career and there is a low risk of repetition.”
Mr Robinson, a registered mental health nurse since 1999, said: “I really didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want her (his wife) to feel ill but I also didn’t want to leave vulnerable adults. She was in severe pain.”
He was also criticised for allowing his wife to stay at the home overnight and help with residents’ laundry, but was cleared of a further charge of allowing his wife to help with drug rounds.
Staffing issues at Lennel House were highlighted in the two most recent Care Commission reports.
A complaint about staffing levels which was made in February 2008 was upheld by Care Commission inspectors; and a similar complaint made in July 2010 was partially upheld.
When inspectors visited the home in February 2010 one of the requirements they made afterwards was that “the service provider ensures that at all times the number of staff on duty is sufficient to meet the health and welfare needs of service users”.
However, when they returned in August 2010 they found that this requirement had not yet been met and inspectors still require the Lennel House manager “to ensure that at all times the number of staff on duty is sufficient to meet the health and welfare needs of service users.”
Inspectors also require evidence “that the number of staff on duty meet the residents’ needs”.
However,they gave Lennel House a rating of good overall (ratings range from excellent through to very good, good, adequate, weak and unsatisfactory).
They reported: “The residents and relatives told us that the staff were attentive and caring
“ Relatives said they feel welcomed when they visited and that they could talk to staff if they had any concerns.”
The ‘medium intensity’ inspection concluded that the quality of the care and support given to residents was good, as was the quality of the environment, and the quality of care for residents’ health and wellbeing needs was very good.
Inspector Jan McIntosh concluded: “We found examples of changes and improvements that had been made or were planned as a result of comments from residents and relatives.”
A spokesperson for Lennel House said: “Guardian Care staffs its care facilities in line with the national guidelines and standards and also provides additional staffing as and when required to ensure that the heath and welfare needs of service users is met.
“Staffing levels are monitored daily by the current home manager Craig Martin and also by our regional manager and head of care.”