A former enrolled nurse who admitted he failed to inform the nursing and midwifery board of his previous criminal convictions has been found guilty of professional misconduct and disqualified from registration for at least one year.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal upheld five complaints lodged against David Hutchinson by the state’s Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
The tribunal heard that Hutchinson had failed to inform the board of 64 counts of stealing in Tasmania for which he had been convicted in 2009 or of a 2013 criminal conviction for a further four offences committed in NSW between 2007 and 2009.
The latter conviction led to a custodial sentence for which Hutchinson served part of before being paroled in May 2014 – his sentence is due to expire in May this year.
Hutchinson, whose registration lapsed in May 2013, most recently worked as a nurse in Melbourne and prior to that in Sydney. Between these stints, Hutchinson had taken a break from the profession from 2006-2010.
In a letter to the Tribunal, the former nurse apologised for failing to disclose his most recent convictions, as well as admitting to having knowingly failed to inform the board of a previous criminal history in Western Australia dating back to the early 1990s.
“In 2001 age 31 I applied and was accepted into the Enrolled Nurses program with Central Sydney Area Health,” Hutchinson wrote.
“On completion of my course I went to the board to become registered this was the first time I was asked about criminal history, I had just finished one year of study and did not want to find out I could not work because of something I had done over 20 years before.
“I answered no to the question. Every time I started work on a new hospital they did a police check and I always came back clean even when I worked in WA in 2003-2005, which is where my record was from 1991.”
Hutchinson admitted to a history of drug addiction and criminal activity, but pleaded with the board for leniency stating that he had since successfully worked to get his life back on track and had not been working as a nurse at the time of any of his criminal offences.
“I know I lied on my renewal forms since becoming a nurse. My crimes have never involved violence nor have it involved a hospital, nurse, or patient,” Hutchinson wrote.
“The time I had off nursing I was able to get my life back, I only returned to nursing once I was fit in my head to do so. I am a great nurse, it is something I wanted for a very long time. Please do not take this away from me. I will [comply] with any restriction the board places on me, but please do not take my licence away.”
However, the Tribunal found that by Hutchinson’s failure to comply with mandatory requirements to disclose his criminal history to both the board and the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA) was not a suitable person to hold registration as a nurse.
The tribunal found Hutchinson guilty of multiple counts of unsatisfactory professional conduct as well as professional misconduct and barred for 12 months from seeking a review toward regaining his registration.
“There was no persuasive evidence that satisfied the Tribunal that since the commission of the offences there was anything to indicate that Mr Hutchinson had become fit again in the public interest to practise nursing,” the Tribunal found.
“In the absence of evidence that Mr Hutchinson has reformed his character, the Tribunal is comfortably satisfied that Mr Hutchinson was and currently is unfit in the public interest to practise nursing pursuant to section 149C(1) (c) of the National Law.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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