A nurse from Co Louth has been found guilty of professional misconduct, poor professional performance and non-compliance with a code of practice.
Martin Lynch, a nurse at St Mary’s in St John of God’s North East Services in Drumcar, was the subject of a Nurse and Midwifery Board of Ireland fitness-to-practise inquiry.
Mr Lynch previously accepted allegations of professional misconduct in relation to an incident in which a man with an intellectual disability absconded from his residential service and masturbated in front of a child.
The fitness-to-practise committee announced its findings on Thursday. And it was established that the facts of the allegations were proven, given that Mr Lynch had previously accepted them.
Last Monday, the inquiry was told that St Mary’s is a residential service which caters to adults with intellectual disabilities.
It was alleged that in April 2016, a 46-year-old man with a moderate intellectual disability absconded from the campus. It was claimed that the resident, known as DD, then masturbated in view of a young girl who could see him from her living room window.
At the time, Mr Lynch was clinical nurse manager 3 and person in charge of Bliain Orga in St Mary’s, where DD was a resident.
DD was brought back to St Mary’s shortly after the incident.
Tony McGillycuddy, counsel for the Nursing and Midwifery Board, said that the incident came to the attention of St Mary’s management when a report was made to gardaí.
An anonymous letter from a member of the public was also sent to the service. It was alleged that Mr Lynch did not follow the correct procedures in relation to reporting what happened and the Health Information and Quality Authority was not contacted.
Mr McGillycuddy also claimed that when questioned by his superiors, Mr Lynch said that DD was supervised.
Because of this incident, Mr Lynch was accused of poor professional performance, professional misconduct and non-compliance with the code of professional conduct for nurses.
Mr Lynch accepted the allegations and he also spoke at the hearing last Monday.
He said prior to the incident, he had to take time off work due to family problems and the role he was in was very stressful and challenging.
Mr Lynch was demoted to a staff nurse position, which was recommended as a result of an independent investigation carried out by St Mary’s.
Two other incidents, which also took place in April 2016, were discussed at the hearing last Monday. One related to the alleged misuse of a socialisation fund to partially pay for a team-building day for staff.
It was alleged Mr Lynch failed to take appropriate steps in relation to investigating the use of these funds and the inquiry found that this was proven.
The other incident related to another employee allegedly using other staff member’s emails to nominate themselves for an all-expenses paid trip to Granada, which was on offer to St John of God’s staff.
It was alleged Mr Lynch failed to deal with this issue effectively and the committee ruled that this was also proven.
Mr Lynch previously accepted these allegations.
The committee will publish a report in due course which may recommend sanctions, which would be imposed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.