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Nurse Sacked After Dragging Autistic Girl, 7. By Ankles

January 23, 2014

A senior nurse was sacked after dragging a seven-year-old autistic girl by the ankles at a Coventry respite centre, a professional hearing has been told.

Carol Anne O’Reilly, a learning disabilities nurse with a career spanning 30 years, shouted at the youngster before grabbing her by the ankles and pulling her down the corridor at Bradbury House, a disciplinary hearing heard.

The facility is a respite centre in Binley for children with learning disabilities and behavioural problems.

The girl was unharmed but the matter was investigated by her employer, Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, which later dismissed Ms O’Reilly after a disciplinary hearing. Evidence relating to the incident, in May 2012, has now been brought before the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

A panel heard how the girl – referred to only as Client A – was prone to temper tantrums and aggressive behaviour.

On the morning in question, the child had gone into the staff room and tried to take a sip from a mug of tea.

In her defence, Ms O’Reilly said she shouted at the girl because she was concerned the tea was hot and might burn her.

Ms O’Reilly added that she “snaked” the girl back to her bedroom as this was a “monster game” she had played with the girl before.

But in an email to the NMC, Ms O’Reilly admitted the charges and said she did not wish to return to nursing.

During a hearing held in her absence this month, the panel ruled it had been an overreaction for Ms O’Reilly to shout at the girl and inappropriate for a registered nurse to play with a vulnerable child with the potential for harm to be caused.

It was also decided that her behaviour brought the nursing profession into disrepute and placed a patient at “unwarranted risk of harm” – actions they found amounted to misconduct and impaired her fitness to practise.

The panel served her with a three-year caution.

Chair of the panel, John Matharu, said: “Ms O’Reilly was a specialist learning disabilities nurse, of considerable experience, who should have been acting as a role model to junior members of staff.”

Tracey Wrench, director of nursing and quality at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “The wellbeing of every patient in our care is of paramount importance. Our staff work hard to maintain high standards at all times, often in difficult circumstances.

“Unfortunately in this case, this member of staff’s previously unblemished 30 year record was spoiled by action that falls below that expected of a registered nurse, and our own internal investigation resulted in her being dismissed.”

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