Nurse struck off after leaving dementia patient in a cupboard all night

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A senior nurse has been struck off after a shocking incident in which a dementia patient was left in a dark equipment cupboard overnight. Heather Davies had been in charge during the night shift on a dementia ward at Hinchinbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire.

A disciplinary hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard that one patient started shouting, and was disturbing other patients on the ward. The hearing heard that a junior nurse moved the patient into a corridor, but was told by Davies that because of the size of her bed, somewhere with double doors would be needed like those which were in the equipment room.

Scared and shivering

Ms Davies said she was only meaning to give an example, but the junior nurse took what she said at face value and moved the patient into the storeroom at around midnight. A healthcare assistant told Ms Davies what had happened and said they found the patient in the cupboard with a window open. The assistant said she was scared, hallucinating, shivering and sweating and had no cot bumpers on the bed to prevent her from falling, and no call bell. However, Davies still left the patient there for six hours from midnight until 6am.

Ms Davies accepted that she had made a mistake, but said that a virus had placed the ward under extra pressure. However, the NMC panel found that although Ms Davies had not been the one to put the patient in the cupboard, she should have taken action to remove the patient from what was clearly an unsafe environment. The panel decided that the incident was so serious that the only course of action was to strike her off. The more junior nurse involved in the incident Lisa Ndlovu was suspended from duty for six months.