A Victorian man has been fined $60,000 after being convicted of charges relating to falsely claiming to be a registered nurse.
The charges involved four counts of holding himself out as a registered nurse, one of unlawfully using the protected title ‘registered nurse’ and one count of unlawfully claiming to be authorised or qualified to practise in the nursing profession.
The charged against the man were laid by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court last week, after allegations that the man claimed to be a registered nurse even though he held no qualifications and had never been registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
Despite his lack of nursing qualification, the Victorian man actually managed to become the Director of Nursing in an aged care facility, which is a role that requires nurse registration.
Tougher new penalties were introduced from 1 July 2019 for people who pretend to be registered health professionals, including nurses and pharmacists.
In a media release from AHPRA, CEO, Martin Fletcher reminded the public, employers, and practitioners that there are a number of criminal offences that people can report to AHPRA, including unlawful advertising, unlawful use of protected titles and unlawful claims to registration.
‘We will prosecute offences. We want to be clear that the work we do is paramount to public safety. We make sure high-risk offence complaints, such as this one, are dealt with quickly so the public are protected.
‘Our risk-based approach also means we respond to lower risk offence matters, such as advertising offences. These are dealt with through our advertising compliance strategy which focuses on ensuring registered practitioners are compliant with their regulatory obligations in any advertising,’ he said.
‘The two approaches complement each other, and make sure we address every individual offence concern raised with us to ensure public protection,’ Mr. Fletcher added.
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Chair, Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, said the man’s actions endangered the public’s confidence in the profession.
‘Integrity and trust are central to the role of a nurse and this individual’s actions endangered this integrity. It is never okay to pass yourself off as a nurse, however, doing so and being in a senior position of influence and responsibility as a director of nursing is a serious abuse of trust.
Nurses are always in a position of trust when working in our healthcare services but particularly in this case that trust was abused by someone working with one of our most vulnerable patient groups, our elderly.’
‘He may well have committed further offences if hadn’t been for the diligence of our investigators in AHPRA’s Criminal Offences Unit, who painstakingly investigated the matter to ensure the sentence given was entirely appropriate,’ she said.