Foul-mouthed nurse told patient to ‘have a drink’ at Sunderland addiction treatment centre

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A RUDE nurse who told alcoholic patients to “have a *******” drink was suspended for six months today.

Paul Smith admitted subjecting service users to torrents of verbal abuse at the Huntercombe Centre in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.

He was also heard by colleagues and outside witnesses and admitted using bad language - but said it was banter and not meant to offend.

Smith used foul language to refer to some patients.

His response to a letter of complaint was to tell his colleagues he “wasn’t going to change,” the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Smith, a nurse with over 22 years of experience, was first employed with Huntercombe Centre, who support those with substance and alcohol addictions, in July 2012.

The Centre made a referral to the NMC after a number of alleged incidents between June and July 2013, including refusing to help a patient when they fell onto the floor and not helping them sit up.

Janice Burgess, for the NMC, said the firm’s bosses complained about the nurse’s foul-mouthed outbursts in September 2013.

She added: “Individual service users had raised concerns after Smith was heard using bad language in front of them or even directing it at them.

“He was also heard by colleagues and outside witnesses and admitted using bad language - but said it was banter and not meant to offend.

“Smith’s line manager spoke to him about his behaviour, having already had to do so in July 2012.

“Smith told one patient to have a ‘******* drink’, and one witness will say that, although it is sometimes appropriate to mirror patients, it would never be appropriate to swear himself.

“He told another patient to ‘**** off’ when he was standing at the door of the office making a gesture and fully admitted telling them to ‘**** off’ but maintained he was just joking.

“Again, the NMC say this would never be appropriate.

During a 5.30am fire alarm June 2013, Smith told a group of patients he overheard blaming the incident on someone smoking in their room to “stop behaving like a bunch of *********.”

Ms Burgess continued: “Smith came across patients congregated in the corridor discussing the fire alarm and saying it had been set off by a fellow resident smoking in their room.

“He says he felt they were bullying an absent service user and he didn’t think it was appropriate.”

On another occasion Smith held up his hand in front of a patient’s face and said: “You can talk when I’ve finished.”

“Lastly, he failed to provide assistance to the patient who had just been bathed and asked for help sitting up and subsequently fell when she rolled onto the floor,” Ms Burgess said.

She said: “His position is that the bad language was part of his rapport building and developing a bond of trust with users and had been considered out of context’

Suspending Smith for six months, NMC panel chair Emma Boothroyd said: ‘The panel did not accept that swearing at patients could be regarded as ‘banter’ or an appropriate way to build rapport with patients.

“There are professional ways of building relationships with patients that should be employed.

“Nor, in the panel’s view, is it appropriate to swear in front of colleagues.

“For these reasons the panel considered that Mr Smith’s actions fell significantly below the standards expected of a registered nurse and amounted to misconduct.”