Nurse admits using terminally-ill man’s bank card without consent

Elizabeth Yvonne Williamson allegedly withdrew more than €5,300 over seven months

The nurse  worked at Bloomfield Care Centre from 2009 until she resigned from her position in July 2012.

The nurse worked at Bloomfield Care Centre from 2009 until she resigned from her position in July 2012.

 

A terminally-ill cancer patient chose not to press charges against a nurse who allegedly withdrew money from his account without his consent because he did not want to see her again, a disciplinary inquiry has heard.

The nurse, Elizabeth Yvonne Williamson, has admitted to one factual allegation and that it amounted to professional misconduct.

Ms Williamson is facing allegations of professional misconduct and non-compliance with the code of professional conduct at a Nursing and Midwifery Board fitness to practise inquiry.

It is alleged that while working at the Bloomfield Care Centre in Rathfarnham, Dublin, she used an ATM card belonging to a resident suffering from prostate cancer to withdraw large sums of money without his consent. She allegedly withdrew more than €5,300 at various times between October 10th, 2011 and May 8th, 2012.

It is also alleged that Ms Williamson, who was known as by her maiden name Claffey during her time at Bloomfield, retained the money for her own use and benefit.

It is further alleged that in April 2012 she used the resident’s card without his consent to make a purchase of just over €250 while shopping at an Asda shop in Northern Ireland.

Ms Williamson admitted on Friday through her barrister that she used the resident’s card without his permission for the transaction in Asda and this amounted to professional misconduct.

Roger Smith, deputy chief executive and financial controller of Bloomfield Health Services, gave evidence at the inquiry on Friday. He described the resident, referred to as KD, as a “frail, elderly gentleman with significant physical health problems. He had cancer and subsequently received palliative care”.

Mr Smith said he reviewed KD’s bank statements after concerns over potential unauthorised withdrawals were raised in October 2012. Mr Smith noted a withdrawal of €120 was made from KD’s account on October 10th, 2011, another €400 was withdrawn on October 17th, and €600 was withdrawn on November 29th.

The statement indicated this last withdrawal was made from an ATM at the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, across the city from the Bloomfield Care Centre.

“The amounts were the first indication that something unusual was happening”, said Mr Smith. “These were unusual because there’s no obvious need for KD to be withdrawing these amounts of money.”

Gardaí were informed and Mr Smith said he was at a meeting where a garda informed KD that Ms Williamson had admitted to taking funds, but only with his permission.

Mr Smith said KD appeared to be surprised and shocked at this, and said he had not given anyone permission to withdraw money.

KD later decided not to pursue a case through the courts.

“KD expressed reluctance in being involved with a court case, saying he did not wish to see Ms Williamson again,” Mr Smith told the inquiry.

Health care assistant Shirley O’Toole, who worked with Ms Williamson at Bloomfield Care Centre, praised the nurse in her evidence.

“It was brilliant working with Ms Claffey,” Ms O’Toole said. “She was an excellent boss.”

In October 2012, while checking KD’s chart, Ms O’Toole saw some of KD’s bank statements and noticed a number of large withdrawals from the account. As KD did not often leave the premises, Ms O’Toole believed the high number of withdrawals meant someone else had access to his account. Ms O’Toole brought this to the attention of a senior colleague.

In October 2012, Ms O’Toole brought KD to his bank in Rathfarnham, in order to go over his bank transactions. The following month, KD received his bank statement. At his request, Ms O’Toole went over the statement with KD.

“The man was in shock” when he realised how much money had been withdrawn from his account, Ms O’Toole said.

Describing KD, Ms O’Toole said he had a history of cancer and tuberculosis. He also had behavioural issues, but not psychological issues.

“KD was a kind, gentle man,” said Ms O’Toole. “I never encountered aggression from him.”

Ms Williamson worked at Bloomfield Care Centre from 2009 until she resigned from her position in July 2012. She currently works as a Clinical Nurse Manager 2 at another mental health and residential care facility in Dublin, the inquiry heard, where she does not have access to patients’ finances.

The inquiry will continue at a later date.