A nurse has been struck off after she was caught making A&E patients wait for treatment – so she could write Christmas cards.
Liza Hawes was caught by a ward sister scribbling messages in the cards when she should have been treating members of the public and also stole painkillers and hid them in her BRA, a tribunal heard.
The shocked senior nurse had to step in and stop her writing the festive cards while five patients waited for their initial assessments at Northampton General Hospital.
When the incident happened in December 2009, the department had been failing to hit its target of dealing with patients within four hours.
On another occasion in August 2011, Hawes was caught with stolen painkillers after a colleague spotted her with keys to the medicine cupboard hanging from her pocket.
Hawes was then searched by a security officer who found codeine phosphate tablets stuffed inside her bra and empty packets in her glasses case.
She admitted that she had stolen four tablets four days previously.
A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) tribunal panel found her guilty of misconduct.
Hawes admitted the theft matters at the hearing but denied the Christmas card incident.
But the tribunal panel found her guilty of misconduct on all charges, though it said it took her ‘unspecified health problems’ at the time into account.
The NMC judgement said Hawes’ actions in ignoring the patients while writing Christmas cards “would be deplorable in the eyes of fellow practitioners”.
Mrs Hawes claimed she could not remember writing the Christmas cards on duty.
Despite being told Hawes’ integrity had never been questioned in 15 years, the NMC struck her off and imposed an 18-month interim suspension to cover any appeal.
Matthew Fiander, the panel chairman, said in its published judgement: “Your actions spanned some eight months and cannot be categorised as ‘one-off’.
“The panel was satisfied that your actions placed patients at risk of serious harm.”