Mental Health

02.04.19

‘Impulsive’ nurse held votes on a patient fight on a Norfolk hospital mental health ward

A nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital asked patients to vote on whether they wanted to see two other patients on a mental health ward fight, a misconduct hearing has found.

Mental health nurse Steven Boyd used the “inappropriate de-escalation technique” at the Norfolk hospital in King’s Lynn in July 2016. Then, in 2017, he greeted a patent with a record of self-harm by asking “are you dead yet?”

A Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct panel opted to impose a 12-month conditions order.

The misconduct panel heard that Boyd was a registered nurse on the Churchill Ward at the Fermoy Unit in King’s Lynn, which cares for unwell patients with high risk of self-harm or psychosis.

The judgement said Boyd “asked other mental health patients to raise their hands to cast a vote to determine whether they wanted to see one patient attack another.”

Boyd admitted the charge, and said that the hospital had been understaffed and he thought the de-escalation technique would work.

He also said he was “experiencing difficult personal circumstances” but now “fully regrets” the incident and now understands that there was a “clear risk to patients and staff by using this de-escalation technique.”

“This was a dangerous situation which involved two volatile patients and I can understand how the de-escalation method used would be seen as reckless and a bad example to visitors.”

Boyd also faced several allegations about incidents that occurred whilst he working at Cambian Willows in Cambridgeshire in 2017 involving a patient with a history of self-harm.

On one occasion he said a patient was fit to be interviewed by police whilst she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

In another, the panel found that Boyd failed “to identify the clear risks posed by greeting a patient as they woke, with a history of self-harm, with the words 'are you dead yet?'" and said this failing “was of significant concern.”

The panel stated that Boyd “acts impulsively and fails to fully consider the potential risks posed for how he interacted with these patients – a failing that the panel consider is not yet remediated.”

The hearing also heard that Boyd had made “significant improvements” to his nursing practice, and the panel imposed conditions on the nurse, meaning he has to work more closely with his supervisor and create a personal development plan.

Image credit - Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Image

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