08 Jun 2016
A South Australian woman has received a $7,000 fine and a criminal conviction after pleading guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to using the protected title of ‘registered nurse’ and for holding out that she was a registered nurse, contrary to the National Law1.
Jennifer Anne Reed pleaded guilty to all 20 charges in total under sections 113 and 116 of the National Law, occurring between 15 July 2012 and 18 December 2014.
The charges were brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), and covered her conduct whilst employed at ten different aged care facilities in South Australia and New South Wales.
Ms Reed pleaded guilty to a course of conduct that involved the presentation of false registration documents and to holding out that she was a registered nurse.
In a decision handed down on 7 June 2016, His Honour, Magistrate Bennett took account of the fact that Ms Reed had already been sentenced to four years of imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 months in South Australia, and had a nine month suspended sentence imposed in New South Wales. His Honour also noted that Ms Reed had been ordered by various Courts to repay approximately $30,000 upon her release from custody.
In sentencing, the Court considered that deterrence of other would be imposters was the paramount sentencing consideration, but that by statute2 this had to be weighed against the limited ability of Ms Reed to pay any fine upon her release. Magistrate Bennett imposed a penalty of $10,000 discounted to $7,000 in addition to the mandatory victims of crime levy.
‘The NMBA’s position on misuse of the protected title ‘nurse’ is very clear. It is unacceptable for anyone to claim to be or act falsely as a nurse or midwife. The use of the title ‘nurse’ or ‘midwife’ is crucial in making sure the public have confidence when accessing healthcare services and know they are being cared for by a person who is registered with the NMBA and is adequately educated, trained and competent to practise in Australia,’ said Dr Lynette Cusack, Chair of the NMBA.
The current registration status of all of Australia’s 637,000 registered health practitioners is published on the register of practitioners. If a person’s name does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in a regulated health profession in Australia.
Anyone with concerns about the registration status of someone working as a registered health practitioner should contact AHPRA immediately.
Download a PDF of this Media release - Imposter nurse pleads guilty in South Australian Magistrates Court - 8 June 2016 (220 KB,PDF)
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law as in place in each state and territory (the National Law)
2Section 13 of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA).