Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Nurse suspended from practice for 12 months
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Nurse suspended from practice for 12 months

13 Apr 2016

A tribunal has suspended a nurse’s registration after finding he engaged in professional misconduct.

A tribunal has reprimanded Mr Stephen Walker in the strongest possible terms and suspended his registration as a nurse for 12 months after it found he had engaged in professional misconduct.

The tribunal also imposed conditions on Mr Walker’s registration requiring him to complete education on ethics in the practice of nursing.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the NMBA) referred Mr Walker to the Health Practitioners Tribunal of South Australia after he falsified his qualifications in a job application.

In October 2012, Mr Walker applied to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a nursing position in the operating theatre of the Kandahar Theatre Hospital.

The position required an applicant to be a registered nurse with postgraduate qualifications and experience in intensive care (perioperative care, accident and emergency) or as a nurse practitioner in primary healthcare.
In his application Mr Walker stated that:

  1. he was a nurse practitioner (anaesthetics) at a busy city trauma hospital with experience in all aspects of anaesthetic nursing
  2. he had experience in post anaesthetic care
  3. he was qualified with a Masters degree in perioperative nursing, and
  4. he was able to scrub/scout for orthopaedics, urology, and general surgery cases if required.

Mr Walker does not have a Masters degree of any type and held only general registration with the NMBA at the time he made a deliberately false application to the RAAF. He was not endorsed under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law), to practise as a nurse practitioner.

Mr Walker’s submission of forged and false documents to the RAAF in support of the false claims included copies of a Masters degree, an academic transcript and university correspondence.

The tribunal regarded Mr Walker’s conduct as behaviour that amounted to a serious example of non-clinical professional misconduct. If he had succeeded in his application to the RAAF Mr Walker would have been placed in Afghanistan in a situation where he would be required to carry out nursing skills that he did not have, potentially putting members of the armed forces and others at unnecessary risk.

The tribunal found that Mr Walker engaged in professional misconduct. It noted that the conduct would attract the severe disapproval of his nursing colleagues and had fallen far short of the behaviour expected of the nursing profession, as set out in the NMBA’s Code of professional conduct for nurses and Code of ethics for nurses. Both codes are available on the NMBA’s website in the Professional codes and guidelines section.

Mr Walker was ordered to pay the NMBA’s costs.

The tribunal’s decision is published on the Health Practitioners Tribunal of South Australia website.

Page reviewed 13/04/2016