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Nurse struck off after affair with patient ends in tragedy

A nurse, Penelope Williams, has been removed from the nursing and midwifery register by the UK regulator following the death of a patient she was having a secret relationship with. The incident occurred when the man collapsed in his car outside a hospital in Wrexham, in January 2022, and Williams ignored advice to call for an ambulance.

The patient, identified as Patient A, was discovered partially clothed in the vehicle by Williams’s colleague. The cause of death was recorded as “heart failure and chronic kidney disease triggered by a medical episode.” During a fitness to practice panel, it was revealed that Patient A received regular treatment at the Betsi Cadwaladr health board, where Williams worked as a general nurse on a renal unit.

On the night of Patient A’s death, Williams visited the home of a colleague referred to as Colleague 1 before meeting with him. At around midnight, Williams called Colleague 1 in a distressed state, explaining that someone had died. Colleague 1 advised her to call an ambulance.

When Colleague 1 met Williams in the hospital car park, they found Patient A partially clothed and unresponsive. They immediately called emergency services, including the police and ambulance, which Williams had failed to do. Sadly, Patient A was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Initially, Williams told the police and attending paramedic that she had gone to meet Patient A after he messaged her on Facebook, claiming he was unwell. However, in a subsequent statement, she admitted to being in a sexual relationship with Patient A and having arranged to meet in the car park that evening.

During a formal meeting with the health board in February, Williams denied the relationship, stating that they had merely sat in the back of Patient A’s car, engaging in conversation for about 30-45 minutes, before he suddenly groaned and passed away.

However, during a local disciplinary hearing in May, Williams finally admitted to the relationship and acknowledged her failure to call an ambulance despite being advised to do so. Consequently, she was immediately dismissed from her position.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel determined that Williams’s failure to disclose the relationship, as well as her lack of understanding regarding the potential damage it could cause to the nursing profession’s reputation and public safety, constituted serious misconduct. The panel concluded that her actions were “significant departures from the standards expected of a registered nurse” and were incompatible with her remaining on the register.

In light of these findings, Williams was struck off the register, with the panel expressing the belief that allowing her to continue practicing would undermine public confidence in both the nursing profession and the NMC as a regulatory body.