UK suspends Nigerian nurse over misconduct

US Police

The UK Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has suspended Nigerian nurse Elizabeth Offier over misconduct.

A panel of the Fitness to Practice Committee of the NMC had earlier suspended Ms Offier for six months for “impairment of her fitness to practice arising from misconduct”, but this was questioned by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA).

PSA filed an appeal in March 2023 because it said the penalty imposed by the panel was not sufficient for the “protection of the public.” It asked the court to quash the decision and substitute a striking-off order.

Premium Times reports this was revealed in a 21-page judgement it obtained which Justice Sheldon approved on March 26, 2024 after a hearing held on March 6 at the Royal Court of Justice, London.

Another panel review hearing held on August 23, 2023 which Offier failed to attend decided to impose a further period of suspension for 12 months, with a further review to be held at the end of the new punishment period.

The NMC’s panel found that Offier was dishonest on different occasions with her employers, and she admitted to having breached the order due to financial reasons.

Offier was admitted to the NMC register in March 2004, having worked as a nurse in Nigeria for several years. In November 2018, she registered with Pulse Healthcare Limited – a nursing agency and worked through them at two Foundation Trusts.

On April 11, 2019, the registrant worked a night shift at a hospital that was part of South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. During this shift, it was alleged that she signed a patient’s chart with another nurse’s initials to indicate that both she and her colleague had attended to the patient.

On April, 22 and 23, 2019, she also worked the night shift at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, where it is alleged that she failed to give three patients intravenous antibiotic medication and failed to give insulin to two other patients.

She is alleged to have signed patient records indicating that she had administered medication when she had not.

Offier failed to attend any of the meetings scheduled by Pulse to discuss whether she had been in “breach of contract”, after which her contract was terminated.

However, on October 11, 2019, Pulse made a referral to NMC and on August 27, 2019, the registrant applied for employment with another agency — First Call Healthcare Agency, and refused to disclose in the application form that she had worked for Pulse or Standby Agency – another agency with whom she had been registered.

She confirmed that the information provided was accurate and completed a Qualified Staff Questionnaire, where she indicated “No” that she had never been the subject of a disciplinary or investigation by an employer, or had been referred to NMC.

The NMC Investigating Committee imposed some conditions in relation to the administration of medications and imposed an interim condition of practice order on the registrant for 18 months.

The conditions imposed by the committee were that the registrant should ensure that she was supervised by another registered nurse at any time that she was working and that she had to give a copy of these conditions to any agency with whom she was registered to work.

Offier did not notify First Call of the conditions and in December 2019, through a routine check of NMC records, First Call discovered that the registrant was subject to conditions imposed by NMC.

On learning of the conditions imposed by the agency, First Call examined its records and realised that the registrant had worked one-night shift on December 7, 2019 as the only nurse in charge at a care home.

In reaction, Offier explained that she had “never intended to hide anything as such conditions of practice are all made public by NMC. I am sorry if it has caused inconvenience.”

Offier was eventually dismissed by First Call and a referral was made to NMC, leading to her being subjected to an interim suspension order by NMC. This continued to be in force until the hearing before the panel.

While Offier, the second respondent did not appear before the court, Sheldon noted that she indicated that she was not prepared to consent to being struck off the register and that she made no representations as to why the appeal should be dismissed.

Sheldon admitted that the panel “fell into error by finding that none of the six forms of dishonesty that are most likely to call into question whether a nurse should be allowed to remain on the register were met.”