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Essex: Mental health nurse given 18 month interim ban

12:00 09 March 2013

A MENTAL health nurse who was sacked from his job after allegations were made about his conduct has been given an interim order banning him from practising for 18 months.

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has said that Laurence Welch must not work as a nurse while it conducts a “full and proper” investigation into claims about his conduct while working for North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Welch had joined the trust in 2004 and had worked as a band five nurse but was dismissed in October 2012 following allegations relating to his clinical practice. Concerns had been raised that he had acted “in a manner which may have put service users at risk”.

At an Investigating Committee Interim Order Review hearing on Monday, NMC legal representative Nisha Dutt made an application for an interim suspension order to be made “for the protection of the public and in the public interest”.

Ms Dutt said that during the Disciplinary Investigation by the Trust, one of his colleagues described Mr Welch’s performance as “very different and very laid back”.

It is alleged that on November 1, 2011 Mr Welch signed off a CareBase entry for a client who had a history of depressive episodes with fleeting self harm and who had presented as being “very low in mood, getting fed up and thinking of ending his life”, but failed to follow-up with this client to a satisfactory standard and within an acceptable timeframe.

On November 29, 2011 Mr Welch was alleged to have been made aware of a CareBase entry by an unqualified worker for a client with a history of mental health problems, overdosing, and suicidal thoughts since 2000. She appeared “very low in mood” and having suicidal thoughts. Mr Welch failed to respond to the client’s needs by following-up with a further assessment.

On December 2, 2011, it is alleged that Mr Welch failed to make telephone contact with a client who had a long history of depressive episodes, suicidal ideas, problems with anxiety and a post traumatic stress disorder, despite making a commitment to do so and recorded this on November 29, 2011. He also allegedly failed to hand over details of the client’s needs to colleagues when he went on leave.

Finally, it is alleged that on December 10, 2011, Mr Welch failed to respond appropriately during a crisis situation with a client who had a history of low mood and suicidal thoughts and incidents of self harm, requiring strong prompting from colleagues to deal with the situation effectively.

The panel noted that the allegations were “very serious, long-standing and wide-ranging” and related to the care of vulnerable adults. It concluded that if repeated, there was a serious risk of harm to patients and that the behaviour is not what is expected of a registered nurse.

Mr Welch was not present and was not represented at the hearing.

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