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Nurse who smelled of drink' suspended

PUBLISHED: 15:38 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:54 12 August 2010

A NURSE who turned up for work reeking of booze has been suspended for a year.  Geraldine Nightingale, 53, was reported to her bosses

A NURSE who turned up for work reeking of booze has been suspended for a year.

Geraldine Nightingale, 53, was reported to her bosses after colleagues claimed they smell alcohol on her breath, the Nursing and Midwifery Council was told.

Nightingale was sent home from the Nash College in Bromley, which caters for students with learning disabilities, on September 24, 2006.

She was later suspended after earlier allegations concerning her alleged drinking came to light. Nightingale later claimed she may have had 'one, two or more drinks the night before' at a disciplinary hearing.

Head of nursing at the college Angela Crooks told the NMC she was so concerned she came in to the college to deal with the problem personally.

She said: "I asked to see Gina. When she was talking to me I could definitely smell alcohol on her. This was about 5pm.

"At the time I didn't ask her if she had been drinking as I didn't want to accuse her outright so I sent her home after telling her two complaints had been made about her from other staff. I said I would write to her the following day detailing the reasons why."

Mrs Crooks said she asked Nightingale if she had been drinking during her shift at a second meeting.

The nurse claimed she had only had one drink the night before and had not drunk any alcohol before work that day.

But Andrew Giles, executive vice president of the college, told the hearing it was not the first time a similar incident had occurred.

He said: "We have had similar problems in the past.

"When we asked Gina if she had had a drink that day she categorically denied it. But then she admitted she may have had one, two or more drinks the night before."

The decision was then taken to suspend Nightingale from duty.

Panel chair Sue Sauter said although there were health issues involved, the nurse's actions were too serious to not take any action.

She added: "There was the potential implication the registrant's actions could have affected her ability to practise safely.

"There is also no indication she has taken any rehabilitative steps to address the issues which gave rise to this situation.

"Given her inability to engage with the NMC the panel have found it is appropriate in this case, in the interests of both the public and the registrant, to suspend her from the register for a period of one year."

Nightingale, who denied the allegations, did not attend the central London hearing to find out her fate and has had no contact with the NMC throughout proceedings.

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