A COUPLE of nurses have been struck off after fostering an “intimidating, hostile, degrading and humiliating environment” on a ward at Llandudno General Hospital.

Alicia Andrews and Tabitha Williams were handed striking-off orders following a series of hearings of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)’s Fitness to Practise Committee.

The panel chairing the hearings found that the conduct of both nurses was a “significant departure from the standards expected,” and “fundamentally incompatible” with remaining on the NMC register.

Ms Andrews and Mrs Williams were referred to the NMC after allegations that, between September 2020 and June 2021, they demonstrated “bullying and intimidating behaviour” towards colleagues, particularly student nurses.

This followed Bangor University receiving numerous reports from its student nurses of poor patient care they had witnessed on the hospital’s Morfa Ward, specifically for elderly patients.

Among the charges proved against Ms Andrews, who started working on the ward in February 2020, were:

  • Telling a patient expressing suicidal thoughts words to the effect of: “Go on, you might as well do it” and laughing.
  • Telling a patient words to the effect of: “Your breath stinks”.
  • Saying in relation to a patient: “I wouldn’t worry, he will be RIP’d soon”.
  • Closing a patient’s door when they were agitated and telling them to “shut up”.
  • Said in relation to a student nurse: “Keep her away from me,” or words to that effect.

Among the charges proved against Mrs Williams, who started working on the ward in March 2018 and promoted to deputy ward manager in February 2021, were:

  • Saying in relation to a patient words to the effect of: “She’s rotting from the inside”.
  • Saying in relation to a student nurse words to the effect of: “She doesn’t do much, anyway”.
  • Telling a patient words to the effect of “stop being dramatic” and “stop making that noise”, and not checking on them when they were weaving/bringing up bile.
  • Telling a patient words to the effect of “stop it”, “shut up” or “give it a rest”.
  • Saying she had “no interest working with dementia patients”, or words to that effect.

Charges proved against both were:

  • Inappropriately delegating blood glucose observations to a student nurse.
  • Openly discussing student nurses in negative terms with each other.
  • Ms Andrews changing the staff rota using Mrs Williams’ login details and with her permission.
  • Ignoring and not supporting a colleague, and making negative comments about them in their absence.
  • Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading and/or humiliating environment for student nurses and staff on the ward.

During the hearing, a student nurse said that Ms Andrews “would essentially encourage” the patient contemplating suicide to take their life, and Mrs Williams “would laugh about it”.

Another student nurse said they told Ms Andrews another patient reported feeling unwell, to which she sarcastically replied: “Oh, I’m so worried,” or words to that effect and laughed it off.

Mrs Williams was also the mentor for one student nurse, who said she made them feel “very uncomfortable” and “seemed to ignore the fact I was there”.

A colleague of Ms Andrews, meanwhile, recalled her telling a patient: “If you have got anything to say, say it to my face,” an incident she said she could not remember.

Ms Andrews also enabled a student nurse to take observations of patients’ blood sugar levels with her own login details, despite the student nurse not having been trained in this area.

She also left a student nurse to monitor the electrocardiogram of a “distressed” patient unsupervised, meanwhile.

Similarly, a student nurse said that Mrs Williams and Ms Andrews would ask her to do all blood glucose observations after just three weeks of being on the ward.

The patient who Ms Andrews told that her “breath stinks” was deaf, which led to her repeating this remark loudly to her.

A student nurse also said they were left “angry” and “shocked” at Ms Andrews saying she was “not bothered” by a patient having a nosebleed.

Mrs Williams was “right next to her” at the time she said this, but she also “angered” the student nurse by her “failure to intervene”.

Referring to another patient who vomited after a student nurse fed them soup, Ms Andrews said: “I wouldn’t worry, he will be RIP’d soon” in a “sarcastic” and “very cold” manner.

Another witness said that Ms Andrews told a colleague to “give this to gobs**** sat there” when asking them to pass a patient their meal.

In respect of both Ms Andrews and Mrs Williams, one of the student nurses said: “Many times I’d hear them talk about other student nurses on the ward, saying they weren’t good or couldn’t do certain things.

“I just keep myself to myself and would get on with it.”

Another student nurse added: “The way they treated some of their fellow nurses was also awful. I remember, one was redeployed onto the ward as a supernumerary, but the way they treated her was disgraceful.

“She was often ignored and treated as incompetent. They didn't support her with the duties she sometimes needed help with, and laughed at her behind her back.”

A patient on the ward with dementia who would often cry loudly and continuously was also the frequent target of comments from Mrs Williams such as “stop it”, “shut up” and “give it a rest”.

Another witness told the hearing that Ms Andrews would receive Mrs Williams’ login details from her and change rotas “to suit them”.

Concluding, the panel said: “Both Mrs Williams’ and Ms Andrews’ actions created and contributed to an intimidating, hostile, degrading and humiliating environment for student nurses and staff on the ward.

“The environment created by Mrs Williams and Ms Andrews also extended to patients.”

They will both be subject to an interim suspension order for 18 months prior to being struck off.