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Wednesday, 03 August 2016

Three nurses who faked patients' blood sugar readings struck off register

Written by The Press Association

Three nurses who faked blood sugar readings of their patients have been struck off the nursing register for good.

Rebecca Jones, 31, Lauro Bertulano, 46, and 42-year-old Natalie Jones were all caught falsifying medical notes while working at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, south Wales.

A court was later told they were "too lazy" to check the glucose levels of vulnerable people on a specialist stroke ward and made up readings instead.

It meant that some patients went hours before having genuine tests carried out - including a bedridden 82-year-old whose blood sugar was not checked for more than a day.

Last year, all three later pleaded guilty to wilful neglect - with Rebecca Jones, 31 and Bertulano, 46, both jailed.

Junior nurse Natalie Jones avoided a custodial term, but was given a community order.

Seven months on from their court case, a Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) tribunal in Cardiff ruled that the three will never be allowed to work as nurses again.

NMC panel chairwoman Helen Potts said: "Convictions of this nature strike at the heart of the nurse and patient relationship, undermine the trust and confidence the public place in nurses.

"(They) acted dishonestly...over a prolonged period of time...breaching the fundamental tenets of the profession to make the care of people (their) first concern and to act with honesty and integrity."

An internal investigation was first launched by the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University health board in 2013 after discrepancies were found in medical notes on Ward 2.

Patients on the ward "lacked capacity" and needed their blood sugar routinely tested every two hours because their levels were often wildly unpredictable.

But what started as an in-house probe turned into a criminal investigation - and saw the three nurses arrested and interviewed by police.

Last year, Cardiff Crown Court heard that among the victims was an insulin-dependant diabetic - who had seven false entries recorded in his notes in just nine days.

Rebecca Jones, of Brynmenyn, later confessed to faking 51 entries in patients' records and was subsequently given an eight month jail term after admitting wilfully neglecting nine patients.

Bridgend-based Filipino male nurse Bertulano, who falsified 26 entries, was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to causing the wilful neglect of six patients.

And mother-of-three Natalie Jones, also of Bridgend, admitted wilful neglect of two patients after falsifying medical notes on four occasions. She managed to keep her liberty after a judge ruled she had played a lesser role and was handed a 12 month community order.

During sentencing, Tom Crowther QC branded the defendants a disgrace to the nursing profession.

He said: "This was not only a failure to do your job, but a failure of compassion and humanity.

"This was clear eyed and calculated deception, the purpose of which was to make the defendants' working time easier."

In issuing a striking-off order NMC panel chairwoman Mrs Potts said none of the patients had come to "actual harm", but added: "By falsifying notes, particularly vulnerable patients were placed at serious risk from hypo or hyper glycaemic episodes."

Health board ABMU, which had lent its backing to a striking-off order, said it was aware of the NMC's decision.

A spokeswoman said: "These three nurses left our employment last year after they admitted the charges against them.

"Their behaviour was totally unacceptable and extremely disappointing.

"As soon as we had become aware of anomalies around some blood sugar tests, we did not hesitate to bring our concerns to the attention of South Wales Police; and we cooperated fully with the investigation which followed.

"These issues related to historical events some years ago. We can give assurances that regular checks since then have revealed no further problems.

"Staff at the Princess of Wales Hospital provide a very high standard of care, and the feedback they receive from patients and families is routinely high. People can rest assured that the hospital consistently provides excellent care; and we strive to improve still further."

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