A NURSE who sent photographs of herself in her underwear to a prisoner suffering from paranoid schizophrenia has been ordered to be struck off.

Gemma Tomlinson, who worked at Guild Lodge in Goosnargh, was found guilty of 'very serious' misconduct by a panel of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in London.

Tomlinson was found to have sent letters that were personal in nature, and two photographs of herself in her underwear, and also to have given him her personal phone number.

She was working for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust in January 2009 as a mental health nurse at the secure mental health hospital, which houses dangerous patients from across Lancashire.

The prisoner, known only as Patient A, was an inpatient at the hospital between November 12, 2008 and January 9, 2009, when he returned to HMP Preston.

The panel said that Tomlinson, then aged 26, was dismissed by the trust in April 2009.

It said: “While she accepted by the time of her disciplinary hearing in April 2009 that she had acted unprofessionally, she had earlier denied any wrongdoing, and sought to maintain that because Patient A was no longer present on the ward, her contact with him was not unprofessional.

“This serious lack of judgment causes the panel concern as to the registrant's understanding of boundaries, issues, and her insight.”

It said that Tomlinson, who was not present and not represented, had not engaged with the NMC's process.

“The registrant’s misconduct was very serious. She failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with Patient A in a number of respects.

“Patient A himself was a vulnerable young man with an established diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

“The panel came to the conclusion that confidence in the council would be undermined if the registrant were not struck off.”

It made an interim suspension order for a period of 18 months, to cover the appeal period, for the protection of the public.

A spokesman for Lancashire Care said: "The trust is unable to comment on individual cases other than to say this was a regrettable but rare situation which was dealt with accordingly.

“The trust has strict policies in place to mitigate against incidents such as this and we welcome the findings of the panel."