Nurse accused of abuse fails to get job back

By Heather McCracken

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A nurse who was fired after allegedly slapping a patient in the face and pulling his ears has lost her bid to get her job back.

Registered nurse Thankamma Geevarghese denied the allegations and took a claim to the Employment Relations Authority seeking reinstatement, lost wages and compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Mrs Geevarghese had been employed by Mid Central District Health Board (MCDHB) at Palmerston North Hospital since 2005.

At the time of the incident in 2011 she was working in a ward for older people with mental health issues.

The health board received three written complaints about Mrs Geevarghese's behaviour on the weekend on November 12 and 13, two from other staff members and one from an agency care assistant.

They claimed she had treated a patient inappropriately, such as "yelling, slapping, punching and pulled his ears, slapped his face, and had called the patient's name then started to slap the patient in the face twice, then she started to hit him in the chest".

The matter was raised with her verbally and in writing, and she was invited to a meeting to discuss the allegations.

During the the investigation, another three staff also reported witnessing her slapping the patient with an inappropriate degree of force. She was given an opportunity to respond before being dismissed on February 10, 2012.

Mrs Geevarghese denied the allegations and said they were motivated by "racism and bullying".

However the authority found she had not provided any details or evidence to support this claim.

She also claimed that there were contradictions in the witness statements, but the authority said the essence of the complaints was sufficient to counter any inaccuracies.

The authority determination said Mrs Geevarghese genuinely believed she had done nothing wrong and had consistently denied the allegations.

"She may be right, but MCDHB did come to an honestly held belief that there had been serious misconduct based on the evidence available at the time. I am satisfied that the evidence did meet the standard for such allegations."

The claims were dismissed.


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