Mid-Staffs nursing chief: I’m not to blame

Janice Harry tells hearing that the word 'nursing' in her job title was 'misleading'

The former director of nursing at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital has told a disciplinary hearing that the word "nursing" in her job title was "misleading", as she blamed frontline staff for catastrophic care failings at the hospital.

Janice Harry, 60, distanced herself from problems at the Trust and said that she had not "front-line-managed" nurses.

"The misleading element of my job was the word 'nursing', she told a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practise hearing. "People thought that I actually front-line-managed all the nurses in the trust, and I hope it's been demonstrated that this was done in a devolved process.

Ms Harry, who worked at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust between February 1998 and June 2006 and has since retired, is accused of failing to ensure enough skilled nurses were on duty, that wards were kept clean and patients were given enough food and water.

In one of the first full hearings into nurses from Stafford, she told the NMC panel that problems of short-staffing were never raised with her.

"When I was at the trust I recruited staff rather than lost staff," she said. "I had perhaps misplaced confidence in some of the senior staff on those wards, thinking they were doing things that perhaps they were not."

Ms Harry denies any misconduct.

Meanwhile, fellow Stafford Hospital staff Sharon Turner and Tracy White were both found to have inaccurately recorded patient waiting in A&E wards.

The hearing was told that Ms Turner had ordered a staff nurse to tell another to "lie about" breaches of four-hour waiting times targets.

Between December 2003 and October 2009, when Ms Turner worked at the trust, she spoke about patients and staff in an "inappropriate manner" the panel ruled.

She was found to have racially abused Asian junior doctors, reportedly referring to them as "suicide bombers". The panel found that she said patients "can f****** wait" and that "they want to get real".

In the case of A&E nurse Ms White, who is still employed by the trust as a clinical site manager, the panel ruled that she had changed patient records so that it would appear that the department was meeting waiting time targets.

Both nurses were also found to have transferred patients to other wards with "soiled sheets". Both nurses deny the allegations against them.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was at the centre of a public inquiry after it was found that poor care could have led to the deaths of hundreds of patients as a result of maltreatment and neglect.

The inquiry highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" at the trust.

The hearings continue.

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