A FORMER nurse at a doctor’s surgery has been suspended after putting patients ‘at risk of harm’.

Staff reported Susan Elizabeth Matthews to authorities after she allowed a patient who had complained of chest and arm pains to leave the surgery without explaining the risk or notifying a doctor.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) misconduct hearing heard how the patient had a ‘significant history’ of cardiac problems and was ‘acutely unwell’ when he returned to the surgery.

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Ms Matthews also failed to keep accurate notes on vital tests carried out on diabetes and respiratory patients, putting them at risk of harm while working at the Malthouse Surgery in Abingdon.

She was found guilty of misconduct and suspended for 18 months.

Ms Matthews, whose nursing career spanned 40 years, was referred to the NMC by the surgery in January 2017. She resigned from the surgery later that year and is now retired.

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At the recent hearing the NMC panel heard from a doctor at the surgery who explained how the patient had attended for a routine appointment during which he complained of chest and arm pain.

However, he was told by Ms Matthews that the surgery was busy and that he would have to have an ECG in the afternoon.

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The patient told the panel he was not advised to wait in the surgery, that a doctor was not called to review him, and that he was not advised of any serious risks of leaving the surgery.

A doctor at the surgery told the NMC: “[The patient] was acutely unwell when he returned to the surgery, and by allowing [them] to leave the surgery Ms Matthews put [the patient] and potentially other members of the public (as he was a driver) at a serious risk of harm.”

According to the NMC’s report, in a performance review after the incident Ms Matthews accepted it was a rare error of judgement which she put down to workload.

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However, in an email to the NMC ahead of the misconduct hearing in February, the former nurse branded the ‘whole process ludicrous’ and said she ‘disputed all allegations’.

In a further act of defiance Ms Matthews said she had no intention of ever practising again and had shredded all of the NMC’s correspondence.

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I would be grateful if you could conclude this matter as soon as possible.”

The panel considered that chest pain and associated arm pain were symptoms that any registered nurse should have known to refer to a doctor as a matter of urgency.

In conclusion, the panel found Ms Matthews actions fell seriously short of the conduct and standards expected of a nurse and amounted to misconduct.