MP criticises decision not to strike off Liverpool nurse

Helen Lockett Image copyright Liverpool Community Health
Image caption Helen Lockett was found guilty of 34 charges by an independent fitness to practise panel

A health watchdog should be abolished after a senior nurse who bullied staff and failed patients was not permanently struck off, an MP has said.

Helen Lockett, nursing director at the now defunct Liverpool Community Health (LCH), was found guilty of 34 charges after a "three-year reign of terror".

The Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) fitness to practise panel suspended Ms Lockett for 12 months.

Labour MP Rosie Cooper said the NMC's reputation was in "complete disrepute".

The NMC said it was reviewing the decision of the independent panel.

Ms Lockett, who had been director of operations and executive nurse at LCH between 2011 and 2014, was responsible for providing services to 750,000 people on Merseyside.

An independent review of the trust found that patients had suffered "unnecessary harm" after cost-cutting led to severe staff shortages.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Liverpool Community Health provided services such as community nursing and dentistry

The independent panel found Ms Lockett had failed to take adequate action concerning reports of inadequate staffing and medication administration and she did not properly respond to reports following the deaths of inmates at Liverpool prison.

It was also found that she bullied and intimidated colleagues, including telling one nurse that she had "wasted 35 years of her life in the nursing profession".

The NMC had sought to have Ms Lockett struck off the nursing register.

But despite the independent panel finding that the misconduct involved a "pattern of failings", it concluded that as she had an otherwise unblemished 30-year nursing career, "it was not in the public interest to permanently remove such an experienced and respected nurse from the practice".

The NMC is understood to be disappointed with the judgement, and has taken the decision to review it at a meeting on Thursday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rosie Cooper MP said she would refer the case to the Professional Standards Authority

"I think striking off would have been the only safe decision," said Ms Cooper.

She said the director of nursing engaged in a "three-year reign of terror which ended with Helen Lockett receiving a £25,000 payoff".

"This decision has the brought the NMC's reputation into complete disrepute."

She is now calling for the NMC to be "replaced with a body which can instil confidence into the profession for both nurses and the public".

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