A LANCASHIRE nurse is risking a striking-off order if she does not engage with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, after being suspended for 12 months for being "incompetent".

Donna Antoinette Pickford was suspended from duties following a review of a fitness to practise order which was originally imposed on her two years ago.

Pickford, who was a registered nurse working in Blackpool, had a substantive conditions of practice order imposed on her for a period of two years by a Fitness to Practise Committee panel on May 21, 2020.

This was due to her "lack of competence" when it came to administering medications to patients under her care.  

The current order is due to expire on June 19, and as a result a review of her conditions was carried out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council on Tuesday, May 10, where it was decided, due to a lack of engagement from Pickford, a suspension order of 12 months was the only appropriate form of action that could be taken going forward.

The charges, of which there were 17, all relate to incidents which took place between October 20, 2015, and October 20, 2018, where Pickford failed to demonstrate the standard of knowledge, skill and judgement required to practice without supervision as a band five nurse.

The charges, which were all proven, included:

  • An incident when she administered the drug Tazocin (an antibiotic) to a patient on two occasions knowing that patient was allergic to Tazocin;
  • An occasion where she failed to administer a Fentanyl (a painkilling opioid) patch to a patient when the patient was prescribed a Fentanyl patch;
  • A failure to administer paracetamol to a patient when the patient was prescribed paracetamol;
  • An incident where she failed to record and sign for the completion of a blood transfusion given to a patient;
  • An occasion whereby she failed to record that she had administered medication to a patient.

Pickford was also found to have failed to check the allergy status of a patient while undertaking a supervised medication administration round.

At the original hearing in May 2020, the panel decided: "Mrs Pickford’s lack of competence previously put patients at a risk of harm, breached fundamental tenets of the nursing profession (in respect of patient care), and brought the nursing profession into disrepute.

"The panel bore in mind the repeated nature of the errors which led to its finding of lack of competence in respect of Mrs Pickford’s practice; they were of a similar nature within a similar clinical frame.

"It considered that these errors were remediable, by their nature.

"Mrs Pickford has not engaged with the NMC in respect of these regulatory proceedings; she has provided no information as to any attempts at remediating her practice, any relevant training she has undertaken, or any references from previous or current employers as to the level of her clinical competence.

"Aside from the limited levels of insight demonstrated in the reflective pieces undertaken by Mrs Pickford at a local level, the panel has also no information as to Mrs Pickford’s current level of insight into her actions.

"The panel determined that, in the absence of such information, a risk of repetition of Mrs Pickford’s failings remains live.

"The panel therefore decided that a finding of impairment is necessary on the grounds of public protection.

"The panel did not consider it to be necessary, within the particular circumstances of this specific case, to make a finding of impairment on public interest grounds."

Substantial conditions were placed on her employment, which included being supervised by a registered nurse at any time she was working; keeping the panel up to date with where she was working or studying; and creating a personal development plan with her line manager.

At the review hearing on Tuesday the panel considered whether Mrs Pickford’s fitness to practise remained impaired, and found that as no new information had been brought and no real material change of circumstances had occured since the previous hearing, her fitness to practise was still impaired.

The panel stated: "The panel also considered there was no evidence to show the development of any insight on Mrs Pickford’s part.

"The panel had nothing before it to provide reassurance that Mrs Pickford would not repeat her clinical failings in the future.

"The panel therefore considered there is a high risk of repetition, and patients would be placed at a real risk of harm if Mrs Pickford were able to practise without restriction.

"The panel determined a finding of impairment remains necessary on the grounds of public protection."

In concluding the hearing, it was determined a suspension order would be the appropriate sanction, which would both protect the public and satisfy the wider public interest.

The panel went on to say: "A suspension order for the period of 12 months will provide Mrs Pickford with an opportunity to engage with the NMC and to provide evidence of her strengthened practice.

"It considered this to be the most appropriate and proportionate sanction available."

This suspension order will take effect upon the expiry of the current conditions of practice order, on June 19.

Before the end of the period of suspension, another panel will review the order.

At that review hearing the panel may revoke the order, or it may confirm the order, or it may replace the order with another order.

The panel added: "This panel wishes to make it clear that the next reviewing panel will expect to see some tangible evidence of Mrs Pickford’s commitment to the nursing profession and strongly advise her to provide the information listed.

"Should Mrs Pickford not do this and continue to disengage with the NMC, a future panel reviewing this case may take the view that her disengagement with the NMC warrants a striking off order being imposed."