Nursing body vets careers

By Chloe Johnson

Council considers future of nurses with convictions

Jane Fitzpatrick starved her animals. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jane Fitzpatrick starved her animals. Photo / Doug Sherring

Two nurses convicted of failing to care for their animals are being investigated by the Nursing Council.

Alison Freemantle-Pilkington, 57, and Jane Fitzpatrick, 61, will go before the council's professional conduct committee.

Nursing Council chief executive Carolyn Reed said the professional conduct committee, consisting of two senior nurses and a lay appointee, would meet with the two to determine the fate of their careers. She said the convictions were taken seriously and a decision from the committee could take up to three months.

"The professional conduct committee has a range of powers from no further action to requiring the nurse to do medial work or to put them forward to the health practitioners' disciplinary tribunal where the conviction is considered in light of its impact on the fitness of that person's practice," Reed said.

Reed was not aware of other nurses being convicted for failing to provide care for animals.

Freemantle-Pilkington, of Papakura, was convicted in the Manukau District Court this week for neglecting five horses in her care. One died of starvation while another had to be put down because it was too sick.

In July 2010, the SPCA inspected Freemantle-Pilkington's five horses, Ace, Star, Aaron, Benjamin and Jasper, after complaints they looked sickly thin and riddled with infections. The SPCA said she was instructed to provide the horses with more supplementary feed because there was not enough grass growth in the paddocks.

But during a second inspection by the SPCA a week later, Jasper was found dead. He died from starvation, acute salmonellosis, bronchopneumonia and parasitic burden. The other horses were uplifted by the SPCA.

Ace was put down and the other horses were fostered out.

Freemantle-Pilkington pleaded not guilty to four charges and, during a defended hearing, she accused a neighbour of poisoning the horses.

When Judge Jonathan Moses dismissed her claims she then blamed pukeko for infecting the horses' drinking water.

This week, she was sentenced to 220 hours of community work in lieu of a $23,000 fine. She was disqualified from owning horses for five years.

In October, Fitzpatrick was banned from owning animals for 10 years and ordered to forfeit more than 150 animals from her 5ha property in South Auckland.

Fitzpatrick was convicted for failing to provide 34 chickens and roosters and 15 cockatiels with sufficient food, water and clean habitats. Court documents, including photos, revealed Fitzpatrick also kept 22 cats in unventilated catteries.

- Herald on Sunday

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