Northamptonshire nurses face abuse and neglect claims

Two nurses impersonated monkeys as part of a racist campaign against a black colleague at a Northamptonshire hospital, a panel has heard.

Sarah Cullum and Susan Horton told other staff at St Mary's Hospital, Kettering, to "save the bananas" for the colleague, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

The pair are also alleged to have abused staff and neglected patients.

They deny most of the allegations against them.

It is claimed that both nurses' fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct.

The nurses face a string of charges relating to the period of their employment by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust, relating to 2006 and 2007 and some unspecified dates.

'Singled out'

They include the physical abuse of one elderly bi-polar sufferer, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Tom Hoskins, outlining the case against them, said their bullying extended to doctors and medical students.

One black nurse, referred to only as Ms M, was allegedly "singled out" for "special attention," the panel was told.

Mr Hoskins said the two nurses called her names and were "said to have been behaving like monkeys".

They are also alleged to have said Ms M "shouldn't be allowed to breed".

'Audible thud'

Several patients were subjected to "neglect" and "discrimination", the hearing was told.

On one occasion, Ms Horton is alleged to have struck the bi-polar sufferer, a man in his 70s, on the back causing an "audible thud".

He was one of a number of people over 65 being treated on a mixed-sex ward.

"If found proven, these facts demonstrate a general abuse of a number of patients that were inpatients on Ian Bennett ward," Mr Hoskins said.

The hearing in central London was told the pair had scanned a list of prospective students, making comments along the lines of: "These will be okay, they're all white" and "We don't do black".

One patient was repeatedly questioned over whether he was gay, the panel heard.

Patients were also referred to as "parasites" and one was dragged from his bedroom and kicked or trampled on by Horton, the panel was told.

Ms Cullum accepts three counts against her: that she refused to help a patient with her medication in 2007; that she referred to one ward as "the United Nations" and that she behaved inappropriately towards a patient when the ward had run out of medication.

She admits saying words to the effect of: "If you can't wait, you know where the door is."

Ms Horton admits saying: "Oh excuse me, skinny" to a staff member.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

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