15 Jul 2016

Prison nurse had ex-inmate live with her

12:50 pm on 15 July 2016

A prison nurse has come within a hair's breadth of being suspended for a financial relationship with a former inmate she had treated.

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has censured the woman, ordering her to pay a $5000 fine and $20,000 in costs.

The nurse had conducted the prisoner's exit interview from jail and met him the day after his release.

She found his accommodation to be substandard, and invited him to stay at her home as a flatmate.

That arrangement extended over nine months for an unclear amount, but the tenancy relationship deteriorated to the point where the man was evicted.

The situation led to the nurse ultimately being charged with professional misconduct.

Following a three-day hearing in Christchurch in May, the Tribunal found the man was a vulnerable person.

"There was a significant power imbalance between the nurse and the prisoner arising from various factors including the professional relationship, the circumstances of the prisoner's own lack of freedom and the control he was under, the knowledge that the nurse had, or should have had, about matters of privacy to him which he did not have about her."

The tribunal has ruled the nurse came within a "hair's breadth" of suspension, but instead it imposed conditions on her practice.

She is also required to do an approved course on ethics and boundaries.

The nurse has permanent name suppression, and the Tribunal has not disclosed the identity of the man, nor the prison he was in.