The bullies who will never nurse patients again: Pair who ruled A&E unit at scandal-hit Stafford hospital 'with fear' and covered up neglect are struck off
- Sharon Turner and Tracy White falsified A&E discharge times
- They wanted to hit target for patients to be dealt with in four hours
- Hearing told some racist staff even forced black patients to wait longer
Two senior nurses at the centre of one of the worst hospital scandals in living memory have been struck off.
Sharon Turner, 48, and Tracy White, 52, stood accused of ruling the A&E unit at Mid Staffordshire ‘with fear’ by bullying other nurses into covering-up the appalling neglect of patients.
They are the first two nurses from the trust to be struck off. Up to 1,200 patients are feared to have died there unnecessarily between 2005 and 2009.
But until now, not a single doctor or nurse had been struck off or even lost their job over the failings, to the dismay of grieving families.
Yesterday the Nursing and Midwifery Council banned the two nurses from ever practising again for undermining the public’s faith in the profession.
The panel ruled they had conspired to fiddle the figures on waiting times ‘with sheer dishonesty’ and had ‘coerced and frightened’ other more junior nurses to do the same.
When told by other staff that a patient had requested something, she said: ‘They want to get f****** real’, the panel heard.
Mrs Turner, who qualified as a nurse in 1993, also allegedly branded Asian junior doctors ‘suicide bombers’ and ‘Osama’s mate’, in a reference to the late Al Qaeda leader.
The former ward sister, who worked in the A&E department between 2003 and 2009, also vowed to make one male nurse’s life ‘living hell’ leading him to take an overdose – which he survived.
Mrs White, who has been a registered nurse since 1992, bullied staff into lying about the length of times patients waited in A&E to meet the Government’s maximum four-hour target.
Astonishingly she is still working at the hospital and since leaving the A&E unit in 2009 had been promoted to one of the most senior management positions.
She is currently clinical site manager – in charge of allocating patients to beds – on a salary of up to £47,000, about £10,000 more than her previous nursing role.
‘The drive for targets was obviously a huge thing at the time. We were told that jobs might be on the line if we didn’t do it.’
Stephen Redmond, who chaired the hearing at the Old Bailey, told the two nurses that they had failed to put patients and their care first.
‘Instead you made the achieving of statistical targets, by honest or dishonest means, your primary aim. This was not a one-off failing, rather it was at the heart of the way you worked over a sustained period.’
He said they had resorted to ‘sheer dishonesty’ by altering paperwork and said they had ‘coerced and frightened other, often junior, members of staff into doing the same. You shouted and swore at them if they did not comply when you should have been setting an example.’
Julie Bailey, who helped expose the appalling neglect at Mid Staffordshire following the death of her mother in 2007, said: ‘This is the start of accountability in the NHS. We’re all very pleased at the outcomes. But there is clear evidence these nurses should have been suspended long ago by the trust.’
She also said it was ‘frightening’ that despite being struck off, the pair could still work in hospitals as healthcare assistants.
The cases began in March but had been repeatedly adjourned and had only begun considering evidence against the pair this week.
Another five nurses from Mid Staffordshire are having their cases considered by the NMC including the former chief nurse, Jan Harry.
Maggie Oldham, chief executive at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Tracy White is still employed by the trust. We will need to take some time to consider the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel’s findings.’
The trust said Mrs Turner had stopped working for it in 2009.
SHE MADE THOSE IN PAIN WAIT
She reprimanded the seriously ill patient by calling her a ‘naughty little monkey’ for not taking her laxatives, and refused to help lift her from a wheelchair to a bed, saying: ‘I’m not doing this. I’m not hurting my back.’
Whistleblowing nurse Helene Donnelly said the woman, who died the next day from a pulmonary oedema, or fluid on the lungs, had been given ‘a very uncared-for and undignified last 24 hours’. Another patient, who arrived at A&E suffering from bleeding after having an abortion, was refused immediate treatment by Sister White, who said: ‘She can wait, if you can do that to your baby.’
The whistleblower also claimed: ‘Sister White would deliberately make patients wait. Black patients were being made to wait.’
When junior nurse Mrs Donnelly was scathingly told off by another manager for faking a discharge time, she said she looked at the paperwork and recognised White’s handwriting.
But the senior nurse did not come forward to admit the forgery and was later promoted to her current role as clinical site manager.
FIGURE OF FEAR FOR HER STAFF
When one bullied male nurse took an overdose in despair, she said he ‘should have taken a few more and done the job properly’.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council was told Sister Turner had vowed to ‘make his life hell and get rid of him in six months’ and ‘drive him to drink’ so that ‘he would be out of here’.
When a colleague was taken to hospital with a head injury, the mother of two is said to have told staff: ‘I don’t care if she lives or dies.’
Asian junior doctors had to put up with appalling racist abuse from the senior nurse.
She asked one, ‘What have you got in your rucksack doctor, is it a bomb?’ and referred to others as ‘him in the turban’ and ‘her with the yashmak [veil]’.