NHS worker who threatened to 'blow Jeremy Hunt's brains out' is suspended

Stephen Knowles asked to be spared punishment because of 'two and a half years of grief'

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A senior NHS practitioner who told Jeremy Hunt he would “gladly blow his brains out” has been suspended.

Steven Knowles sent the Health Secretary six tweets over a one-month period, one of which asked Santa to “inflict health problems” on his family.

Writing under the name @nosteve1963, Mr Knowles also tweeted about staffing levels and asked why Kings Mill Hospital was on “black alert”.

The operating department practitioner, based at Sherwood Forest Hospitals in Nottinghamshire, has been banned by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

“The aggravating feature is the extremely offensive nature of the six tweets that were sent,” said panel chair Nicola Bastin.

“Mr Knowles lacked a full appreciation of the wider impact of these threatening tweets on his intended target, his colleagues and members of the public, or the wider effect of such misconduct on public confidence in the profession.”

One tweet sent on 18 December, 2014, was described as “extremely offensive” by the HCPC panel. 

"I will gladly put a bullet through your head,” it read.   

Another read: “Hunt you are a murderer and I would gladly blow your brains out.”

Mr Knowles, who attended the first and third HCPC hearings, said he had been forced to find work as a lorry driver.

“I have declared openly and honestly that I have had a pending hearing and then they will drop me like a stone,” he said. 

“I have been an ODP for over 30 years, it took over my life. I want to go back to a job that I love and provide a service that I was proud of.”

He added:  “I have had two and a half years of grief. I think I have had that as reflection is enough penalty. I am afraid that is how I feel.“

Mr Knowles, who resigned in April 2015, has since deleted his Twitter account and has undertaken 12 counselling sessions, is suspended from practising for 12 months.

His series of tweets came at a time when Mr Hunt was urging people not to rely on A&E departments, and after hospitals declared "black alerts" over unprecedented admission levels.

The government is cutting beds across UK hospitals to help fight a £886m deficit.