STRUCK OFF: Hartlepool nurse stuffed bloodied towel into dementia sufferer’s mouth

Nigel Phillips at the door of his Thornaby home.
Nigel Phillips at the door of his Thornaby home.

A SENIOR nurse at a Hartlepool care home has been struck off after he stuffed a bloodied paper towel into an elderly dementia sufferer’s mouth.

Nigel Phillips also bent the frightened woman’s injured hand back after she trapped it in a door and shouted in her face to “shut up” before storming off.

Brierton Lodge

Brierton Lodge

The shocking incident happened at BUPA-run Brierton Lodge, in Brierton Lane, last October, where Phillips, 58, was the head of mental health nursing.

In February he was made the subject of an interim 18-month suspension order due to the seriousness of the allegations.

He had been arrested and accepted a police caution from Cleveland Police for common assault.

But he has now been struck off the nursing register by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

A report of the council’s Conduct and Competence Committee said: “The appropriate sanction in this case is a striking off order.

“Mr Phillips’ actions demonstrate a grave departure from the standards expected of registered nurses and there is a resulting serious risk of harm.

“The panel considered that Mr Phillips’ actions, which led to his caution, constituted such a serious and extreme departure from the standards set out in the code that it would be fundamentally incompatible for him to remain on the register.

“The panel was of the view that the stuffing of paper towels into a vulnerable resident’s mouth, regardless of whether they were bloodied, and the bending back of a resident’s fingers were examples of aggressive and fundamentally unacceptable behaviour.”

Phillips was working the night shift on October 13 last year when the resident concerned accidentally trapped her hand in a bathroom door.

She screamed when Phillips tried to tend to the cuts on her left hand and tried to pull it away.

He screamed in her face “shut up” before squeezing and bending back her injured hand and stuffing the paper towel he had used to absorb the blood from her cuts into her mouth.

During an investigation by the home Phillips accepted shouting at her and forcing the paper towel in her mouth.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council found all the facts of the incident had been proved and said Phillips had brought the nursing profession into disrepute.

Phillips, of Thornaby Road, Stockton, did not attend the hearing at the Old Bailey, in London.

But it heard that at the time he was under stress after being told a close family member was seriously ill.

He accepted, in hindsight, he should not have worked that night shift.

A spokesman for Brierton Lodge said: “Our residents’ wellbeing is our number one priority.

“We have an active whistle-blowing system and our carers used it to raise concerns about this individual’s behaviour.

“We acted immediately, removed the nurse from the home and reported him to the relevant authorities.”