A mental health nurse who "let her patients down" by failing to make vital referrals has been struck off from the profession.

Helen Jefferson spent four years working at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust as a liaison and diversion nurse.

The role required her to assess individuals who were brought into police custody and refer them for any support services they needed.

But she was sacked by the trust after it emerged she often failed to make these referrals.

After concerns about her were highlighted by her team leader at the trust, a number of occasions were found where she had failed to keep records of her meetings with patients or complete referrals to further services.

East Anglian Daily Times: Helen JeffersonHelen Jefferson (Image: Linked In)

Investigations found incidents when she had seen patients, agreed to refer them on for further support and did not do so for weeks.

As a result, vulnerable people were left without support and put at risk of harm.

Ms Jefferson was dismissed by the trust, which in turn referred her to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

And following a further disciplinary hearing she has now been struck off from the nursing profession - although she may appeal this decision.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cath Byford, deputy chief executive of NSFTCath Byford, deputy chief executive of NSFT (Image: NSFT)

Cath Byford, deputy chief executive of NSFT, said: "There is nothing more important than the safety of the people under our care.

"Helen Jefferson let down her patients and her nursing profession and acted against the values of our trust and the NHS.

"An investigation was carried out following concerns and as a result of this a disciplinary process was held and Ms Jefferson was dismissed from NSFT in July 2020 for gross misconduct."

An NMC disciplinary panel heard of several occasions in which Ms Jefferson had failed to keep track of her work.

The panel considered 11 separate charges relating to Ms Jefferson's work in the final two years of her employment with the trust.

These included:

  • An incident when she did not make a referral for a patient for two weeks
  • Failing to make a referral for a patient who reported he was depressed
  • Misleading managers about the extent of her work backlog
  • Not informing GPs of when she had concerns about a patient

The panel also heard she had been dishonest about the extent of her work backlog when questioned by managers.

It was told that in July 2019, Ms Jefferson told her team leader that she had not completed documentation for 18 patients - when in fact this number was 33.

The investigation related to allegations between 2018 and 2019 - leading up to her dismissal in 2020.

In July 2019, Ms Jefferson was placed on restricted practice to allow her to clear her backlog of assessments and referrals.

But in September that year, internal investigations into her were launched by the trust and following a disciplinary hearing on July 14, 2020, she was sacked.

An NMC report into her case says: "Ms Jefferson may have been working in a stressful environment, but she was given a significant amount of supervision and support from her line manager to assist her.

"Nurses occupy a position of privilege and trust in society and are expected at all times to be professional.

"Patients and their families must be able to trust patients with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. To justify that trust, nurses must be honest and open and act with integrity."

The report added her conduct was "fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the NMC register".

Ms Jefferson was approached for comment but did not respond.