Nurse at Pinderfields Hospital banned from profession after admitting she lied about her qualifications

A nurse at a West Yorkshire hospital who put patients "at risk of significant harm" after prescribing medicines without the relevant qualifications has been struck off from the profession.
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Pamela Tolley was employed by the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust as a registered nurse in the Ambulatory Emergency Care Department at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, between 2014 and 2018.

The Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC) service, which has units in Pinderfields and Dewsbury, treats referred patients on the same day - thereby avoiding unnecessary admissions.

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However, a misconduct panel heard she accepted she was dishonest over a "period of time", "put patients at risk" and "lied to her colleagues" after discovering she did not hold the correct qualifications to prescribe certain medication - in a period between November 2017 and June 2018.

Pinderfields HospitalPinderfields Hospital
Pinderfields Hospital

Mrs Tolley had failed to disclose to the Trust that she had discontinued her studies to achieve formal qualifications in Advanced Nursing Practise and/or Non-Medical prescribing.

She took no steps to correct this position despite knowing colleagues "were likely to assume that [she] held one or more of these qualification(s)".

In the winter of 2016, Mrs Tolley made an application for a position of Lead Nurse/Matron at the Trust - an NHS band 8A role.

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However, in the ‘Education and Professional Qualification’ section of the application, Mrs Tolley lied about achieving a grade PASS for all the listed components - when she had not in fact passed Module 2 of the Masters course.

In the ‘Supporting Information’ section of the application, Mrs Tolley said she had ‘completed the Advanced Practice Masters at the University of Leeds’ - when she had not completed the course.

Mrs Tolley made these statements "with the intention of enhancing" her chances of securing the promotion which she did not hold the qualifications for, the panel found.

The panel found that patients "were put at risk of significant harm" as a result of Mrs Tolley subsequently prescribing medicines when she was not qualified to do so.

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The panel also found that Mrs Tolley’s dishonest actions had breached the fundamental tenets of the nursing profession and therefore brought the reputation into disrepute.

It was satisfied that confidence in the nursing profession would be undermined if its regulator did not find charges relating to dishonesty extremely serious.

The panel was of the view that Mrs Tolley’s actions did fall significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse, and that her actions amounted to a breach of code.

Mrs Tolley’s actions did fall seriously below what would have been proper in the circumstances, below the conduct and standards expected of a nurse and amounted to misconduct, the panel found.

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Mrs Tolley admitted all of the charges at the start of the hearing.

Addressing Mrs Tolley, the panel said: "Your dishonesty was not a single incident but persisted over a period of time and manifested itself in different ways - you lied to your employers, colleagues and to patients both by commission and omission."

"While the panel considered that you had good insight into your dishonesty, and that it is unlikely that you would repeat this dishonest behaviour, your dishonesty was very serious and is fundamentally incompatible with you remaining on the register."

The panel said "imposing a suspension order in this case would undermine public trust and confidence in the profession".

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Mrs Tolley was struck off from the profession after the panel found her dishonesty "was at the higher end of the spectrum".

She told the panel she had been experiencing difficult personal circumstances and expressed remorse for her actions.

In mitigation, the panel found "there was no evidence that the prescriptions caused harm to any patients".

Mrs Tolley was present for the sanctions hearing.

She was struck off with immediate effect - with an interim order granted to cover the appeal period.

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David Melia, Director of Nursing and Quality, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, confirmed the trust took "immediate action" following the discovery of discrepancies with the "level of qualifications" Mrs Tolley held.

She was suspended from duties whilst the original internal investigation was conducted.

In a statement, the director said: “Once it came to our attention that there were discrepancies with the level of qualifications Mrs Tolley held, the Trust took immediate action.

”Mrs Tolley was suspended from duties whilst an internal investigation was conducted.

"This led to a formal disciplinary hearing after which her employment with the Trust was terminated.

“The Nursing and Midwifery Council was kept informed at all stages of the investigation.”