Former nurse who assaulted hospital patient faces being struck off register

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By Andrea McCallum

A FORMER nurse who slapped a patient across the face and pushed her into her hospital room faces being struck off the nursing register.

Joanna Hamlin was seen by staff at Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, shouting at the “disorientated” patient and hitting her on an early morning shift.

Witnesses said the patient fell to the floor “wailing” after the attack and Hamlin said: “What have I done?”

Moments before the incident, a staff nurse had raised concern over how the 39-year-old was dealing with the woman – known as Patient A.

It is claimed at one point Miss Hamlin, from Lossiemouth, Morayshire, held the door of the Patient A’s room shut to prevent the woman from leaving.

In a written statement to the NHS Trust Miss Hamlin said that she was “scared” of the patient and witnesses claim the patient slapped the nurse before she was assaulted.

Miss Hamlin – who was working in the acute medical assessment unit at the time – was accused of assaulting Patient A by pushing her into a room by her shoulders and striking her on the face.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Conduct and Competence Committee in Edinburgh said yesterday (Monday) that they accepted witness evidence as proven on two charges of assault.

Case presenter Salim Hafejee said at about 6.30am on July 17, 2007, Patient A became agitated and repeatedly left her room.

Mr Hafejee said Patient A was disruptive to the staff and was testing the patience of them.

Jacqueline Paton, a staff nurse at the hospital, was one of four witnesses who gave evidence at yesterday’s hearing.

Ms Paton said: “She grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back into the room – she pushed her with force.

“ I was waiting for her to take the hand over and the patient came out of her room again but this time she wasn’t shouting and was smiling towards Jo and looked like she was about to embrace her.

“And when she got close enough she slapped her.”

Ms Paton said Miss Hamlin then slapped Patient A and described the patient as falling to the floor and “wailing”.

Jacqui Kenyo, an auxiliary nurse at the hospital, said she had been concerned over Miss Hamlin’s conduct.

She said: “I had to go into her room with Jo – she was confused and disorientated and thought we were in her home in her caravan.

“She was quite upset – I spoke to her and she calmed down and started to understand that we were nurses.

“Jo told me to leave the room – she said for me to go out the room and just leave her as she felt she was being aggressive.

“I thought she was just confused – I didn’t feel she was being aggressive.

“When I left the room I was a bit uncomfortable about the way Jo was speaking to her – she wasn’t very understanding and I went to tell someone that I was a bit uncomfortable about the way she was dealing with the patient.”

Morag Barron, a staff nurse at the hospital, said Patient A was admitted to the hospital with alcohol problems and was “having withdrawals”.

She said: “I heard a patient shouting and heard Jo’s voice – I heard her say “You’ll do what I tell you to do”.

“Jo lifted her hand and she was pointing into the face of Patient A and at that point Patient A lifted her hand.

“It was at a level for Jo to hit it away and Jo hit her in the face – it was so hard that the patient rocked backwards.

“She put her hands on her face and said ‘What have I done?’”

Witness Sandra Elliot, who has been at the hospital for 24 years and worked as auxiliary nurse, also saw the incident.

She said Patient A was repeatedly shouting “Where’s my clothes?” and Miss Hamlin responded by shouting for her to “get back into her room”.

Ms Elliot added:  “She pushed her back in the room with two hands – she shoved her back in.

“The next thing I heard was a slap. The patient dropped to her knees and Miss Hamlin said “I didn’t mean to do it”.

“The patient remained on the floor for a few moments then said “She’s just hit me”.

“Miss Hamlin was hit first – she was not in control of the situation.”

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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