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Nurse struck off after woman suffered brain injury from drinking pool water

By Megan Archer | Dudley | Health | Published:

A nurse has been struck off after an autistic woman in her care suffered a life-limiting brain injury when she swallowed “excessive” amounts of swimming pool water.

Dudley Leisure Centre

The woman, who was 19 at the time and has the mental age of a young child, was injured following a trip to Dudley Leisure Centre in 2014.

She was being looked after by “experienced” and “knowledgeable” nurse Carole Halstead, who continues to “strongly deny any wrongdoing”.

Ms Halstead was suspended shortly after the incident, but a recent review into her suspension by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found she should be struck off.

An earlier hearing was told the woman’s mother warned Ms Halstead of the need to limit her daughter’s swimming session to 10 minutes because of her habit of drinking pool water.

But, it was claimed the session lasted 25 minutes and Ms Halstead was seen chatting to a colleague while the woman drank the pool water.

The 19-year-old later began vomiting water and fell into a coma, requiring treatment for brain swelling at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and is now ‘totally dependent on carers’.

The panel said Ms Halstead, a nurse of 24 years who worked for Freetime Care Services Ltd, did not attend the hearing. They said she had retired and requested to be removed from the register.

A report of the hearing said the panel felt she had not accepted the findings of the previous hearing and “displayed a significant lack of insight into the seriousness and gravity of her misconduct”.

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Freetime Care Services, of which Ms Halstead was formerly a director, confirmed she had retired.

It said: “Carole Halstead continues to strongly deny any wrongdoing...this view is in direct contrast to the findings of the NMC so attendance at the hearing would have been futile.”

In response to the hearing, Freetime Care Services Ltd on behalf of Ms Halstead said: "Carole Halstead was never told by anyone about the 10 minute rule or that Patient A drank excessive amounts of water.

"Carole Halstead didn’t attend the appeal hearing as she retired from being a Learning Disability Nurse (she remains a director) in any case, after decades of unblemished and dedicated service.

"Carole Halstead continues to strongly deny any wrongdoing (though accepts there was not a written risk assessment and there should have been), during her direct care of Patient A. This view is in direct contrast to the findings of the NMC so attendance at the hearing would have been futile.

“Complaints have been made to the NMC about the handling and findings of the case.”

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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