A psychiatric nurse who forged references from a previous employer when applying for a new job has been found guilty of professional misconduct and a breach of the Code of Conduct and Ethics, a fitness to practice inquiry has heard.
The nurse who can’t be named but was referred to during proceedings as Miss X forged a reference from a Clinical Nurse Manager in St John of Gods Community Services for a position at Sunbeam House Services.
A Nursing and Midwifery Board Inquiry heard that the psychiatric nurse provided invalid contact details for the same referee.
A human resources manager at Sunbeam House gave evidence her employer began a recruitment process in late 2018 to find a client services manager for their service in Rathdrum Co Wicklow.
He said that Miss X applied and attended an interview for the position and was successful. She was offered the job subject to several conditions, including providing three satisfactory references.
Miss X accepted the position, and the finalising of her application was then passed to a human resource administrative assistant at Sunbeam Services named witness D.
In her evidence, witness D said she carried out a compliance process on Miss X’s.
Witness D said she wrote to Miss X and asked her to provide three references and their contact details.
On November 6, 2018, Miss X provided all documents requested, including a document setting out the names and contacts for three referees.
Witness D sent an email to Mr A on the email provided and received a reply some days later, which contained a complimentary reference for Miss X.
The policy of Sunbeam House is that when a written reference is provided, it is followed up with a phone call to ensure the stated person supplied it.
Witness D attempted to contact Mr A on several occasions and noticed that the number was the same as the one supplied by Miss X as her next of kin.
After numerous attempts, she contacted St John of Gods directly and left a message. She also contacted Miss X and asked her to get Mr A to contact her directly.
Witness D supplied evidence of later receiving a phone call purporting to be from Mr A.
In her statement, she recalled it as a strange call that came directly to her desk phone that showed as an unknown number.
The reception was also very poor, and Mr A kept answered only ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to questions about the reference. Witness D said she was very surprised by how brief the call was, and she also didn’t detect an Irish accent. She believed the caller did not have English as a first language, while his name implied he was English speaking.
The hearing heard details of another purported referee contacting Witness D and providing a highly complimentary reference.
Witness D again attempted to contact the referee via the email and phone number supplied by Miss X but was unable.
She later received a phone call purporting to be a separate referee and noted its similarities to the previous call from Mr A.
Witness D said it was at this point she was very concerned by the veracity of all of Miss X’s references.
She brought her concerns to a human resource manager.
The inquiry also heard from the Clinical Nurse Manager at St John of Gods, referred to as Mr A, was informed by the Director of Nursing about the issue and arranged a meeting with Miss X to discuss the matter on December 7, 2018.
During the meeting, Miss X said the reference was written by a bank or agency nurse as Mr A was on leave. However, Miss X also admitted submitting the reference in the knowledge it was not written by Mr A.
She was informed that this was a serious matter, and there was a reference policy that states all requests for references should be placed through the St John of Gods HR Department.
During the meeting, Miss X was asked to provide a written account of what happened.
Following the meeting, Mr A and the HR manager set about identifying the bank nurse who allegedly provided the reference in Mr A’s name, but no person was ever found.
On December 12, 2018, the hearing heard that Mr A received an email from Miss X apologising for everything regarding the Sunbeam House references, and she stated she wanted to take responsibility.
She said her better judgement was impacted while under enormous stress and pressure.
Miss A said she didn’t understand the consequences of her actions fully.
In the email, she said she had withdrawn her application to Sunbeam House and offered to resign from her position at St John of Gods, and this was subsequently accepted.
A decision was taken by Sunbeam House to make a complaint to the NMBI.
This was investigated, and Miss X was subject to a fitness to practice inquiry.
She admitted the allegations and was found guilty of professional misconduct and a breach of the Code of Conduct and Ethics.
The fitness to practice committee will report their findings to the board of the NMBI, who will ultimately determine an appropriate sanction for Miss X.