File Number: Nur17/395P
Practitioner: Sara Ann Napier
Hearing Start Date:
Hearing End Date:
Hearing Town/City: Auckland
The Albert Room, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 128 Albert Street, Auckland, commencing at 9.00 am
Executive Officer: Ms Gay Fraser (04) 381 6816
Professional standards inadequate (Established)
Competence - lack of (Established)
Financial gain - inappropriate (Established)
Name Suppression to Practitioner
Practitioner granted interim suppression of name and identifying details
Order for leave to amend the charges
Order regarding Application for Further Particulars
Precis of Decision:
On 26 to 29 March 2018 the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal heard four charges of professional misconduct against Ms Sara Ann Napier, registered nurse of Auckland (the Nurse).
The charges alleged that the Nurse:
- Left the rest home where she was manager, in a manner that indicated she had abandoned her employment and failed to ensure that the rest home continued to be managed appropriately and/or in the best interests of the residents.
- During her time as Nurse Manager at the rest home was:
- Personally liable for salary overpayments totalling $281,087.11 and for receipt of unauthorised payments totalling approximately $439,223.52.
- Liable as a trustee of the Napier Family Trust for salary overpayments totally approximately $281,087.11 and receipt of unauthorised payments being $9,176.70 traced payments and approximately $17,816.37 cash deposits.
- On 9 October a High Court judgment made the findings as set out in Charge 2 and entered judgment against the Nurse for money had and received from the rest home as set out in Charge 2.
- Between 1 April 2005 and 30 April 2012 while the Nurse was employed as Nurse Manager at the rest home approximately $2.2 million was inappropriated from the rest home in circumstances where the Nurse knew or ought to have known:
- That money was being misappropriated for the benefit of her and her family; and/or
- As a result of that misappropriation funds were diverted away from and therefore unavailable for use for the safety and benefit of the residents of the rest home.
The Tribunal found that the Nurse did decide not to return to her employment and that the facts showed there was abandonment of her responsibilities as a Nurse Manager to ensure continued appropriate management of the rest home in the best interests of its residents.
Although the facts of Charge 1 were established, they did not meet the threshold of warranting disciplinary sanction. While the Tribunal considered it was certainly wrong for the Nurse to have left her role in the way that she did, the residents' best interests were managed by a mature and competent nurse who remained at the rest home and there was another nurse available if necessary. Secondly, arrangements had already been put in place for a nurse manager replacement shortly after the Nurse left.
Charges 2 and 3
These were dealt together and were found not to be made out. A High Court judgment entered against the Nurse which concluded that although she had a civil liability for monies as set out in the charges, the monies had been received by her without fault. The Tribunal considered there was not a sufficient causal connection between that liability for received monies and the discharge of her professional duties and functions as a nurse.
The Tribunal found this charge made out and warranted disciplinary sanction.
While the Nurse was employed as Nurse Manager at the rest home there were excessive funds misappropriated in circumstances where she ought to have known that that money was being misappropriated for the benefit of her and her family and away from and therefore unavailable for use for the safety and benefit of the residents. It was the Tribunal's assessment that the level of knowledge was wilful and reckless and she failed to make enquiries that an honest reasonable person would make.
The Tribunal did not make any finding of misappropriation on the part of the Nurse herself but had no difficulty in concluding that as Nurse Manager she was negligent in her management and understanding of rest home finances, budgetary requirements and expenditure needs. It was malpractice on her part to allow rest home funds to be diverted by misappropriation and for that to occur for the benefit of herself and her family.
The Tribunal ordered censure of the Nurse and imposed conditions on her practice for a period of 12 months from the date she resumes practice as a nurse. She was ordered to pay costs of $31,000.00.
The Tribunal directed publication of its decsion and a summary.