The nurse had been working on an acute mental health ward. A suicidal patient was admitted to the ward. The nurse gave the patient a bottle of non-prescription medicine. The patient then hanged himself. The crash team stated that certain equipment was not provided to them. The NMC found that the nurse had been aware that the patient was suicidal at the time; she had failed to ensure that basic life support measures were taken; she had failed to assist the crash team properly; and she had breached the NMC’s code of professional conduct. The Conduct Committee held that the nurse’s fi tness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct and imposed conditions restricting her employment for a period of 18 months.

On appeal, the nurse alleged that the Committee had failed properly to consider a number of relevant mitigating factors, including that the patient had been hostile; she had been told by a co-ordinator to give the medicine; she had not had practical training; the staffi ng level had been insuffi cient; she had not been responsible for the lack of equipment; and she had a previously unblemished record. The Administrative Court held that a Fitness to Practise Panel was the body best qualifi ed to judge what the profession expected of its members in matters of practice and the measures necessary to maintain the standards, and the court should not interfere with a decision unless persuaded that it was wrong. The nurse was an experienced mental health nurse who was used to dealing with such patients. She had been aware that the patient was suicidal. She had given the patient medication that was not prescribed. Further, she had failed to carry out basic life support measures and had failed to respond adequately to the crash team’s questions or assist them. She had breached the NMC’s code of professional conduct in relation to emergency situations. In the circumstances, there were a number of serious failures to perform essential duties. The Court decided that the Committee, which had considered all of the evidence and the mitigating features, had reached the correct decision and that the sanction imposed was a proportionate response.

Jalloh v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2010]