The Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practise Committee have today issued their ruling on the Fitness to Practise of ex Liverpool Community Health Director of Nursing. The Committee have found Ms Lockett to have:
- Failed to ensure appropriate standards of care for patients
- Failed to take adequate action in respect of an alleged sexual assault and/or hostage-taking of a member of staff
- Bullied and intimidated colleagues
Whilst the report deems her Fitness to Practise as ‘Impaired’ the Committee have taken the decision to merely suspend her for 12 months with a review.
Rosie Cooper MP, who was responsible for referring Helen Lockett to the NMC when none of the NHS regulatory bodies did, has branded this a clear undermining of confidence in health service oversight and the Fitness to Practise process. She said:
“In the report, the NMC say they decided against striking Helen Lockett off as it would be disproportionate. I think striking off would have been the only safe decision and a wholly appropriate response to Ms Lockett being found to have bullied staff, failed to ensure appropriate standards of care for patients and shown reckless disregard by financially cutting nurse numbers to make the books balance while patients suffered.
“For caring hardworking NHS nurses and their patients this judgement sends the message that NMC sanctions is the spider’s web through which the ‘big’ flies easily pass.
“The Fitness to Practise Committee have evidently treated this case as one incident, despite it being a three year ‘reign of terror’ which ended with Helen Lockett receiving a £25k payoff to leave quickly instead of the proper disciplinary hearing which should have taken place. Yet again, the NHS failed to deal with serious failures by moving on the problem and the NMC have compounded that failure.
“The public should be outraged that this woman, who worked to promote her own career while overseeing services that harmed and distressed patients and staff alike, walks away with barely a slap on the wrist.
“As an executive on the Board of LCH, she cannot claim to be simply doing her job. She wasn’t just obeying orders, she helped set the culture and enforced the draconian measures that left staff suicidal and patients harmed.
“Many hardworking nurses struggle to make £25k, yet Helen Lockett can now laugh all the way to the bank. This is a signal that it is OK to treat NHS patients and staff with the sort of disdain that destroys their lives and then get away with it.
“What has to happen before people like Ms Lockett are really held to account? Nurses who have been struck off in the past for offences such as failing to complete documentation should be asking for their cases to be reviewed in the light of this perverse decision.
“The NMC has let down the nursing profession from the beginning to the end of this disgraceful episode. At the beginning – by not listening to nurses who reported what was happening – to at the end – not caring enough to protect staff and patients!
“The Health Secretary and NHSI/E need to urgently consider whether this is the support and protection from a regulatory body that the public and nurses deserve! Matt Hancock needs to act quickly to ensure public confidence is maintained in the NHS.
“This decision has brought the NMC’s reputation into complete disrepute. I will be immediately referring the case to the Professional Standards Authority and raising the issue in Parliament, calling for the NMC to be replaced by a body which can instil confidence into the profession for both nurses and the public.”