A Hove psychiatric nurse has been struck off after he failed to flag up one patient’s violent fantasies and suggested another patient who later killed himself was ready to be discharged.
Stephen Cook denied all but one of eleven charges relating to the care of two psychiatric patients in the community before a Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing in May.
But after hearing evidence from his employers at Mill View Hospital in Hove, the panel decided all were proven and last month, he was struck off the register.
The hearing heard Mr Cook was suspended from Mill View Hospital in Nevill Avenue in September 2012 after his supervisor discovered he had failed to call police to warn them of the patient’s threats.
Mr Cook had decided the patient should not be seen at home the previous month after he unsheathed a knife and sharpened it in front of him – but did not tell his housing officer of the risks.
The patient also told Mr Cook he was “thinking of making bombs and especially targeting the DWP” and that “he hates the police and was making napalm” – but police were not informed of this for several days despite Mr Cook’s supervisor instructing him to do so.
Mr Cook told the hearing the patient had a history of making verbal threats, and that he subsequently searched his home for weapons and napalm and found nothing, but that he did contact police out of hours from his home a week later as the risks “had then increased”.
The police then called the hospital for more information, and he was suspended the next morning.
Two days after his suspension, a second patient killed himself, and a subsequent investigation showed “significant gaps” in Mr Cook’s care of him.
As well as failing to draw up care and crisis plans and risk assessments, he had also told his supervisor he needed “A non-urgent medical review and possible discharge” when handing over his work following his suspension.
The panel told Mr Cook: “Your actions as set out in the charges are serious as they put patients and other professionals at risk of significant harm.
“Further, your failures were not isolated but wide ranging over a period of some five weeks. With regard to Patient A you failed to take adequate steps in relation to safety concerns, both by failing to inform a number of professionals including housing workers and or police officers and updating the risk assessment to indicate specific risks.
“In relation to Patient B you failed to complete a care plan, a crisis plan, a contingency plan and a risk assessment. Patient B died and the root cause analysis report highlighted: ‘In conclusion, root causes can be identified as patient factors (fluctuation in mood and suicidal ideation) and poor delivery of care (lack of robust care and crisis planning from Care Coordinator) in combination.’
“Further, upon your suspension by your employer you failed to handover accurate information as to Patient B’s current mental health and the need for ongoing care coordination. It was the panel’s view that your failures put both patients and other professionals at serious risk of harm.”
The panel also issued a suspension order which would still be in force should Mr Cook decided to appeal, but this will be replaced by the striking off order if he decides not to. The deadline for appeal is the end of this week.
A spokesperson for Sussex Partnership, which runs Mill View Hospital, said: “We referred this case to the Nursing and Midwifery Council having taken appropriate action ourselves, and we are pleased to see that this issue has now been resolved.
“We are committed to providing high quality patient care and where staff don’t meet the standards expected by Sussex Partnership and their professional body we will take action, which is what has happened in this case.”