12 May 2022
In a prosecution by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, an unregistered Sydney woman who worked as a nurse at a medical centre was today convicted and fined, after previously being arrested when she failed to appear before the Windsor Local Court of New South Wales.
Belinda Elwell (aka Belinda Raynor) has never been registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
In early October 2020, she was offered a position as a registered nurse at a Sydney medical centre after she had completed an unrelated placement there. Ms Elwell had told centre staff she was a registered nurse. Despite not being qualified or registered to practise, she accepted this position and worked 14 shifts between 13 October and 7 December 2020.
While working as a nurse at the centre, Ms Elwell attended to patients’ dressings, took blood samples, administered immunisations and vaccinations by injection and performed ECGs.
When asked to provide evidence of her registration, Ms Elwell provided a false registration number on a ‘sticky’ note. This number does not exist on the Register of Nurses. Ms Elwell resigned on 8 December 2020 after the centre requested a copy of her Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s (NMBA) registration certificate but continued to insist she was a registered nurse.
Ahpra and the NMBA work together to protect the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably qualified and fit to practise can claim to be registered or qualified to practise.
Ahpra charged Ms Elwell with 16 counts of holding herself out as being registered in breach of section 116 of the National Law.
Ms Elwell failed to appear before the Windsor Local Court on 24 March 2022 and was convicted in her absence. A warrant was issued by the magistrate for Ms Elwell to be arrested and brought before the court for sentencing. She was subsequently arrested on 5 April 2022.
Magistrate Leanne Robinson commented that Ms Elwell’s conduct involved ‘deliberate deceit’ and that she presented ‘a real risk to patients’ as she was not qualified as she held herself out to be.
After taking into account Ms Elwell’s difficult personal circumstances, Magistrate Robinson decided to impose a fine of $3,000 and ordered Ms Elwell to pay Ahpra’s legal costs of $7,200.
Ahpra CEO, Mr Martin Fletcher, said he hoped today’s outcome sent a strong message that falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner had significant consequences.
‘We are committed to ensuring that such behaviour is dealt with and will act to protect the public.’
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, said: ‘Claiming to be a registered nurse when you are not puts vulnerable people at risk and betrays the public’s trust in the profession.
‘This type of conduct is completely unacceptable, and there are repercussions for such actions.’
Ahpra keeps a public register of every health practitioner who is registered to practise in Australia in the 16 health professions regulated under the National Law, included nurses. Employers are encouraged to check the register online to verify the registration of their staff before they begin working, and regularly throughout employment to ensure their staff maintain their registration.