Ripon nurse struck off after failing to probe family complaints

Lorraine Ann Smith was in charge of a team of nurses who provided care in the community.
Lorraine Ann Smith was in charge of a team of nurses who provided care in the community.

A senior nurse has been struck off after failing to fully investigate concerns raised about the care of two patients which potentially left others in her care at “risk of harm.”

Lorraine Ann Smith, also known as Lorraine Ann Payne, was in charge of a team of nurses who provided care in the community to patients in their own home including in the Ripon area. A watchdog has struck her off after finding she failed to adequately investigate complaints from the families of two patients.

However the panel found a charge she failed to promptly investigate concerns about one of the patients unproven.

A panel from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which found her guilty of misconduct, heard Ms Smith, who did not attend the hearing in London but submitted evidence, failed to declare she was a friend of a nurse involved in one of the complaints. They also ruled her behaviour was at times “threatening/and or intimidating.”

Its report added: “Ms Smith has failed to acknowledge the potential harm that patients could have suffered when she failed to objectively decide if a complaint had any merit.

“Whilst there were no concerns relating to Ms Smith’s clinical practice, the panel considered that not dealing with the complaints efficiently, effectively and in a timely manner had the potential to put patients at unwarranted risk of harm.”

Ms Smith was employed as virtual ward team leader for the district nursing team at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, but has since left the post. The panel was told that in one telephone call with a relative of one of the patients she said: “there are two sides to every story and if you continue with your complaint, I’ll find a nurse who would say you destroyed the notes,’ or words to that effect.”

Ms Smith, responding to one of the charges said: “I vehemently deny that I have been biased or lacked objectivity..,” the panel was told.

Phillip Marshall, director of workforce and organisational development at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust said: “We thoroughly investigated the families concerns about Ms Smith, keeping them up-to-date with our progress throughout. We also provided information to the NMC to assist them. Ms Smith is no longer employed by the Trust.