On 30 March 2021 the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a conviction charge laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Ms Y enrolled nurse (the Nurse).
The charge stated that the Nurse was convicted in the District Court of 20 counts of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception in contravention of the Social Security Act 1964 and the Crimes Act 1961.
The charge alleged that the convictions either separately or cumulatively reflected adversely on the Nurse’s fitness to practise.
The Nurse received the domestic services benefit for nearly 20 years and over that time, signed various declarations that her circumstances had not changed and made applications for supplementary benefits. The sum collected over the period of time amounted to $208,945.29.
As a result of an Inland Revenue match, it was found that the Nurse had been employed from September 2007 and from 6 October 2015 but had not informed Ministry of Social Development of this. It was also found that the Nurse had been living in a defacto relationship since October 2008 without declaring this. There was also a failure to declare her income from her employment.
The Nurse was convicted on 18 counts of dishonestly using a document under section 228(1)(b) of the Social Security Act 1964 and 2 counts of obtaining a pecuniary advantage under sections 240 and 241(a) of the Crimes Act 1961.
The Nurse qualified as an enrolled nurse in July 2015 and first registered in August 2015.
The Nurse admitted the charge and accepted that the convictions reflected adversely on her fitness to practise and that a disciplinary sanction be ordered.
The Tribunal was satisfied that the conduct leading to the convictions was unacceptable and that a penalty was appropriate. The Tribunal did acknowledge the offending occurred when the Nurse’s family was undergoing significant trauma, it occurred outside her practice as a nurse and a large part of the offending occurred before she became a nurse. The Tribunal noted that her practice as a nurse has not raised any concerns.
The Tribunal ordered that the Nurse:
- Be censured
- Be suspended from practice for 9 months
- On return to practice, have conditions placed on her practice for periods of between six months and three years
- Pay 15% ($3,597.11) of the total costs of the hearing.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision and a summary.