A nurse who secretly filmed on a hospital ward to expose the neglect and ill treatment of elderly patients has been struck off the register for misconduct.

Margaret Haywood, 58, who had been a nurse for 20 years, was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) after acting as an undercover reporter for a BBC Panorama programme broadcast in July 2005.

Last month, teacher Alex Dolan was banned from teaching for a year for secretly filming anarchic conditions in Britain's schools for a Channel 4 Dispatches programme screened in 2005.

The Panorama programme was filmed at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton and revealed what a disciplinary panel of the NMC said were concerns of an "exceptionally serious nature" involving the failure to deliver "basic nursing care" to patients close to death which "rendered many of their lives miserable".

But the disciplinary panel decided that Ms Haywood, from Liverpool, had breached the confidentiality of the patients by filming them without their consent which was a "major breach of the code of conduct" and "fundamentally incompatible with being a nurse".

The verdict was greeted with gasps of disbelief at the hearing in London and Ms Haywood broke down in tears.

Later Ms Haywood said of the decision: "I am absolutely devastated and upset by it all. I think I have been treated very harshly.

"It is a serious issue and I knew it was a risk I was taking but I thought the filming was justified and it was in the public interest."

The panel had earlier dropped a charge that Ms Haywood had broken the NHS Trust's whistle-blowing policy by raising her concerns through the media.

She said she had reported the issues to managers in the Royal Sussex Hospital but nothing had been done.

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