Drunk on duty nurse gets 18-month ban

Asquith Hall, Todmorden.
Asquith Hall, Todmorden.

A nurse at a Todmorden care home has been suspended over allegations of being drunk on duty.

Stephen Michael Colgan, who worked at Asquith Hall in Todmorden, has been served with an interim suspension order for 18 months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) after allegations emerged of him being drunk at work.

A referral was made to the NMC after it was alleged Mr Colgan attended work under the influence of alcohol on March 28, 2013, and demonstrated erratic behaviour.

The nurse manager observed him walking the length of the corridor carrying a black bag.

Later that afternoon, he was observed to be on edge, anxious and red in the face.

He was sweating, had slurred speech and was unbalanced.

When he was challenged by the nurse manager and the deputy chief executive as to whether he had been drinking alcohol, he responded that he had not.

He was asked to take a breathalyser test and it is alleged the recording indicated he was under the influence of alcohol, with a reading that was described as high.

When the black bag was retrieved, it is alleged a 35cl bottle of vodka was found inside.

Staff said he confirmed the bottle was his, that he had been drinking on duty, that he had tried to dispose of the bottle and that he was ashamed of his actions.

He was suspended from duty at Asquith Hall on March 28. A disciplinary hearing was held on April 8 and he was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

Appearing before the NMC panel at the Old Bailey, Mr Colgan expressed remorse in the witness statements but denied that he was drunk on duty and said the bottle was not his.

He said his ability as a nurse was never questioned during his time at Asquith Hall.

He suggested that the nurse manager and the deputy chief executive’s witness statements were fabricated

In its ruling, the panel said an interim suspension order was “appropriate, necessary and proportionate”.

The ruling stated: “These are serious allegations of behaviour that is likely to be repeated.

“The panel was not satisfied that conditions of practice could be devised which would be sufficient to protect the public given the seriousness of the allegations.

“The panel noted that this order will prevent you from working as a registered nurse and, as a consequence, you may be caused financial hardship.

“However, in applying the principle of proportionality, the panel determined that, in any event, the need to protect the public and the wider public interest outweighed your interest in this regard.”

The order prevents Mr Colgan from working as a registered nurse.

The NMC will now carry out a full investigation and Mr Colgan’s suspension will be reviewed within the next six months.