Nurse who failed suicidal policeman is told he can continue practising

A NURSE who failed to carry out a risk assessment on a police sergeant found hanged 24 hours after being admitted into care has been allowed to continue practising.

Peter Owusu-Mensah (pictured) was dismissed from his role with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust following the death of Sgt Richard Bexhell.

A hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London proved his misconduct but ruled he was “unlikely to repeat the behaviour that has brought him before the panel.” It also ruled his fitness to practise had not been impaired.

Sgt Bexhell, of Highview Close, St Leonards hanged himself less than 24 hours after his admission to the Woodlands Unit on The Ridge on August 28, 2009.

A jury inquest in February ruled the father-of-four had been properly monitored and placed on the correct level of observations.

But in returning their verdict of suicide, the jury said that during the admission process Psychiatrist Dr Abdul Dar and Owusu-Mensah did not carry out a risk assessment or give a full care plan.

Sgt Bexhell’s widow Lynette is suing the Trust for damages for clinical negligence over the treatment of her husband.

Owusu-Mensah, a mental health nurse with four years experience at the time, faced six charges at the NMC hearing last month.

The panel proved he failed to complete a care programme registration form. He admitted failing to complete a patient’s property form, failed to complete a risk assessment, failed to complete an admission checklist and failed to complete a care plan. A charge of failing to complete a weekly care plan was withdrawn.

The panel concluded that it had received evidence of the steps Owusu-Mensah has taken to address his misconduct.

It stated: “He accepts his responsibility to complete the admission documentation and stated he would stay and complete the documents rather than hand them to colleagues. He had expressed his remorse and has demonstrated sufficient insight into the seriousness of his misconduct and the potential risks to which he had exposed a vulnerable patient in his care.

“Mr Owusu-Mensah’s misconduct has been remedied and is unlikely to be repeated.

“This was an isolated incident. There is not, in the panel’s judgement a necessity to make a finding of impairment on the public interest grounds. The misconduct is not sufficiently serious for Mr Owusu-Mensah’s fitness to practise to be impaired.

“The panel considers that a finding of no impairment would not undermine the public confidence in the nursing profession and the standards expected of nurses.

“The panel has determined his fitness to practise is currently not impaired by reason on misconduct.”

Paul Sankey, solicitor acting on behalf of Mrs Bexhell, said: “The NMC concluded that Mr Owusu-Mensah was guilty of misconduct having failed in his duties to complete a risk assessment and care plan when Sgt Bexhell was admitted to the Woodlands Unit. By doing so put a vulnerable patient at risk of harm. This is an extremely serious matter because the harm materialised and Sgt Bexhell then took his own life. Mrs Bexhell is pleased that the NMC have recognised misconduct by the nursing staff but nothing can undo the tragedy that poor care at the Woodlands Unit has caused.”