A REGISTERED mental health nurse who was suspended from his role for six months for being 'dishonest' following the death of a service user has been struck-off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

In a second review of the suspension order originally imposed on Matthew Alexander Shaw-Smith, from Lancashire, who was a registered mental health nurse working at Cromwell House in Manchester, a panel decided to replace the suspension order with a striking-off order. 

His original suspension order was for a period of six months and was handed down by a Fitness to Practise Committee panel on May 5 last year, but was extended for a further six months at a review hearing in December. 

Shaw-Smith was charged with four offences, including making an incorrect statement following the death of a service user in November 2016, in which he stated in a 'three day review' the person had been offered an emergency/same day appointment, when in fact he had been offered an urgent/five day appointment. 

He also said the service user had declined the emergency/same day appointment at the facility he worked at.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council panel deemed his conduct was dishonest as it "was intended to create a more favourable impression of the role of your team in the circumstances of the service user".

An internal investigation into the death of the service user was carried out during which Shaw-Smith made another incorrect statement by saying a colleague had told him she had offered the service user an emergency/same day appointment, when she had not told him this.

The panel again deemed his conduct on this charge to be dishonest as it was intended to try to cover up that he submitted a misleading 'three day review' in respect of the death of the service user.

Following the issue of a management direction on November 29, 2016, to ensure Shaw-Smith's team immediately ceased the use of ‘opt in’ communications for service users, they found Shaw-Smith failed to adequately implement this direction in a timely manner and on December 2, 2016, he personally contravened the direction by sending an ‘opt in’ communication to a service user.

It was also found that on January 31, 2017, during an internal investigation interview in to the use of ‘opt in’ communications, Shaw-Smith said he had verbally told his team to cease using ‘opt in’ communications for services users, when he had not.

Again, his actions were found to be dishonest because "he made the statement in order to cover up the extent of his failure to act on the management direction".

At a first review hearing in December after his initial suspension in May 2021, it was decided to impose a further six month suspension order as it was considered: "Mr Shaw-Smith needs to gain a full understanding of how the dishonesty of one nurse can impact upon the nursing profession as a whole and not just the organisation the individual nurse is working for.

"The panel concluded a further six month suspension order would be the appropriate and proportionate response and would afford Mr Shaw-Smith adequate time to further develop his insight and remediation.

"It would also give Mr Shaw-Smith an opportunity to complete any training and development (in relation to record keeping and management) and provide any testimonials as to his character in his workplace since the substantive hearing."

The panel also considered a striking-off order at the first review hearing but deemed it disproportionate, but stated "a failure by Mr Shaw-Smith to re-engage with these proceedings and provide a future panel with evidence of his remediation and insight would leave it open for a future panel to consider this sanction".

At the second and final hearing in April, the NMC panel noted at the last reviewing hearing in December, Shaw-Smith had completely disengaged with the NMC and stated no further communication has been received from Shaw-Smith since November 2021.

It said: "The panel does not have anything before it to suggest Mr Shaw-Smith has remedied his practice.

"To the contrary, Mr Shaw-Smith has failed to comply with any of the recommendations made by the last reviewing panel.

"The panel considered the seriousness of the charges found proved and the risk of harm to the public if Mr Shaw-Smith were to return to nursing unrestricted.

"The panel is of the view there is a risk of repetition of the misconduct and therefore a risk to the public remains.

"In the circumstances, the panel concluded Mr Shaw-Smith’s fitness to practise remains impaired on public protection grounds."

The NMC said its primary function was to protect patients and the wider public interest which includes maintaining confidence in the nursing profession and upholding proper standards of conduct and performance.

They therefore determined in Shaw-Smith's case a finding of continuing impairment on public interest grounds was also required.

The panel went on to say: "For these reasons, the panel finds that Mr Shaw-Smith’s fitness to practise remains impaired on both public protection and public interest grounds.

"The panel noted that Mr Shaw-Smith has been the subject of two periods of six month suspension orders but he has failed to demonstrate any further insight into his previous failings.

"The panel was of the view that considerable evidence would be required to show that Mr Shaw-Smith no longer posed a risk to the public.

"The panel determined that due to Mr Shaw-Smith’s disengagement with these proceedings a further period of suspension would not serve any useful purpose.

"The panel was also mindful of its responsibilities of the expeditious disposal of this case.

"The panel therefore determined that it was necessary to take action to prevent Mr Shaw-Smith from practising in the future and concluded that the only sanction that would adequately protect the public and serve the public interest was a striking-off order."

Shaw-Smith's striking-off order will replace his current suspension order with immediate effect and will be communicated to him in writing.