Foulche v Nursing and Midwifery Council (2011)

QBD (Admin) (Lloyd Jones J) 12 January 2011 (Unreported)

A former nurse, Ms Foulche, was struck off the register following a finding of misconduct and appealed against the decision of the NMC's Fitness to Practise Panel. The NMC submitted that her appeal did not identify any errors either in the decision of the panel regarding the factual allegations or the finding of impairment of fitness to practise.

The allegations against Ms Foulche were that she had removed property from the nursing home where she worked without permission; had failed to organise chiropody services for residents; had failed to provide proper meals for residents; had placed residents in a windowless room; and had shouted at residents.

Ms Foulche did not attend the hearing and did not provide any reasons why she could not attend. The panel proceeded in her absence and found the allegations proved, made a finding of impairment and ordered Ms Foulche's name to be removed from the register.

In reaching its decision to strike off Ms Foulche, the panel took into account the vulnerability of those in her care and Ms Foulche's lack of regard for the health needs of residents, as well as her breach of trust, her prolonged conduct, and her failure to remedy her conduct.

On appeal, the court held that the panel had been entitled to find the charges against Ms Foulche proved. Despite not attending the original hearing, Ms Foulche had provided two letters to the panel which set out her views on the matters to be considered. The panel had considered the letters but preferred the evidence of several other witnesses whose evidence was at odds with that of Ms Foulche. The court found that the panel's findings of fact could not be challenged.

In relation to the sanction to be imposed, the court found that the panel had considered all the options available to it, including not taking any action. However, it also took into account the actual harm done to the residents, the prolonged nature of the conduct and Ms Foulche's lack of insight into her behaviour. The panel had additionally considered the effect a striking off order would have on Ms Foulche, but was also obliged to consider the standing of the profession as a whole. The court held that although the sanction was severe, it was one of the options available to the panel and in the circumstances, it was not unjust.

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.