In early 2014, Simone Morey was employed as a registered nurse in a Toowoomba Hospital (the Hospital). In May 2014 AHPRA received a complaint about Ms Morey, which included a number of allegations concerning missing drugs and inadequate clinical performance. The Nursing and Midwifery Board (the Board) resolved to take immediate action against Ms Morey in relation to the conduct in question. A few days prior to the Board's resolution, Ms Morey attempted suicide using drugs she had taken from the Hospital. Following the suicide attempt, police seized the drugs from her home and located hospital prescriptions for other drugs which were suspected forgeries. A subsequent police investigation charged Ms Morey with stealing, to which she pleaded guilty in July 2015. In June 2016, the Board referred the matter to the Tribunal for consideration as to whether Ms Morey had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct as defined in the National Law. Although Ms Morey accepted that her conduct amounted to professional misconduct, it was still a matter for the Tribunal to consider and determine.
Ms Morey admitted that on 27 March 2014 she pretended to administer half a tablet of Oxazepam, intending to keep the tablet for personal use at a later time. When this conduct was noticed by a colleague, Ms Morey pretended to look for the tablet and subsequently dropped it on the ground for the other nurse to find. Ms Morey admitted to taking, without authority, 15 ampoules of the restricted drug Propofol and other paraphernalia necessary for the administration of that drug from the hospital. These items were used in Ms Morey's attempted suicide. Ms Morey admitted that in or around April 2014 to May 2014, she took two prescriptions for 25 tablets of Oxazepam (30mg), with four repeats each (a total of eight repeats), which she knew were forged, from the hospital for her own use. She presented these prescriptions at a number of pharmacies to be filled. Ms Morey further admitted to engaging in dishonest and misleading behaviour in relation to the conduct in correspondence to her employer, the hospital and AHPRA, by attempting to deny a number of the allegations later admitted.
The Tribunal held that it was not difficult to conclude that Ms Morey's conduct amounted to professional misconduct as defined in the National Law. Regarding sanction, the parties provided a joint submission proposing that a sanction of a six month preclusion from applying for registration be imposed in addition to a reprimand. The Tribunal noted that notwithstanding the joint submission it was for the Tribunal to determine the appropriate sanction. It had been held in previous occupational regulation decisions that, where the parties have agreed on a proposed sanction the Tribunal ought not depart from the proposed sanction unless it is outside the permissible range. The Tribunal accepted the proposed sanction. The Tribunal considered it appropriate for the parties to bear their own costs.