Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Tribunal suspension highlights need for nurses to report criminal matters
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Tribunal suspension highlights need for nurses to report criminal matters

15 Nov 2018

A tribunal has suspended a nurse for four weeks, after she failed to notify the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) of criminal charges and convictions.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found Ms Barbara Hawthorne behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct, reprimanded her, suspended her nursing registration, and imposed conditions requiring her to undertake education on ethical and legal obligations.

On 5 March 2014, Ms Hawthorne was charged with offences concerning motor vehicle insurance fraud, punishable by 12 months’ imprisonment or more. Ms Hawthorne pleaded guilty to the charges on 4 September 2014.

Ms Hawthorne was required under the National Law1 to give the NMBA written notice of the charges and the convictions within seven days of each event, which she failed to do in both cases.

When renewing her registration on 28 May 2015, Ms Hawthorne also failed to declare the change to her criminal history to the NMBA.

On 6 August 2015, the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (AHPRA) received a notification from Ms Hawthorne’s employer regarding her convictions. Following an investigation, the NMBA referred the matter to the tribunal.

On 24 May 2018, the tribunal found that Ms Hawthorne’s criminal conduct regarding the convictions, and failing to report the charges and conviction to the NMBA, constituted professional misconduct.

The tribunal noted that the registration system, for public protection, rests on honest and prompt reporting by practitioners of any interaction with the criminal justice system.

In considering the appropriate determination, the tribunal also noted that in close to 60 years of nursing, Ms Hawthorne had not been subject to any previous notifications.   

The decision is published on the tribunal website. For further information on the NMBA’s mandatory Criminal history registration standard, please visit the NMBA website.

1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

Page reviewed 15/11/2018