A forensic mental health nurse who had sex with a recent patient after giving her wine quit his district health board job as soon as he was outed.

Within two months, during which he underwent professional counselling, he had resumed nursing and at present does casual work in aged and dementia care.

Now he is at risk of having his nursing licence cancelled, following a Health and Disability Commissioner investigation that found he sexually exploited the woman and breached the Code of Patients' Rights.

Commissioner Anthony Hill's decision said the sexual encounters occurred in 2013 when the woman was still a patient of the DHB's mental health service and two months after the registered nurse - who is not named - was directly involved in her care.


The woman, aged 48 at the time, suffered from major depression with associated anxiety and panic attacks, alcohol issues, and had a history of suicidal thoughts that increased with stress. The nurse's care had included organising the woman's court bail to a residential facility in June 2013.

They had lived in the same town and had intermittent social contact.

When they bumped into each other in September 2013, the nurse said he would visit later the same day. The woman thought he was coming to see how she was.

He arrived at her residence in a DHB car when the woman was outside smoking a cigarette. They went into her unit and he produced a bottle of wine which he said was for her, according to the woman's statement written down by her DHB case manager and not disputed by the nurse.

The nurse said to the woman, "I wonder if there's something you could do for me", and according to the statement, "he got his penis out".

Patient: "You're married."

Nurse: "Don't let that worry you, you understand."

Patient: "I do understand."

The nurse produced a condom, they had sex and he left soon after.

He returned later that day and they had sex again. He told her he would come back three days later with more wine, and that he had "always fancied her".

She texted him the day before that intended meeting and told him not to return.

She told the case manager that soon after the sexual encounters, she felt "yuck" about them and had considered taking an overdose of her medication.

Mr Hill has asked the Director of Proceedings to consider the case. The independent prosecutor has not yet decided whether to take any action, which could include laying charges at the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Hill has also asked the Nursing Council to review the nurse's competence and recommended that he write an apology to the patient and do some training on professional boundaries.

Nursing Council rules
*Nurses are banned from sexual or intimate behaviour or relationships with patients and those close to them.
*Sexual relationships with former patients may be inappropriate regardless of when the nursing care ceased.
*Sexual or intimate relationships might never be appropriate if the former patient had been mentally unwell.