Since May 2012, the nurse’s employer had provided three-monthly updates to the board, describing her as a highly valued staff member Photo: Gabriele CharotteQueensland Health employed a nurse struck off in England for taking money from a mental health patient after she “comprehensively” outlined her actions, a tribunal judgment reveals.
Jean Chipo Mberi, 36, was found to have stolen £170 ($290) in 2012 from the patient under her care at Northampton’s St Andrew’s Hospital.
The English regulator raised concerns she could offend again.
Ms Mberi was registered by Australia’s national body on March 9, 2012, less than a month after the second of two incidents.
A Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal judgment published earlier this week found she failed to properly disclose her past when applying to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for registration.
But while AHPRA was left in the dark about her misconduct, the judgment revealed Ms Mberi met with Townsville Health Service District Institute of Mental Health Services nursing director Tony Swain before she got the job.
According to the judgment, Ms Mberi signed a statutory declaration “comprehensively outlining the events that had occurred in the UK” and gave it to the director.
“In his letter to Ms Mberi of 16 March 2012, Mr Swain accepted Ms Mberi’s explanation of the events which had occurred in the UK, and her explanation of why she accepted an official caution,” the judgment stated.
“Relevantly, he said: ‘I intend to contact [AHPRA] to notify them that this matter has arisen, and to advise of the management strategies we will put in place to assist you to transition to our organisation.’ “
AHPRA said it couldn’t legally comment on individual practitioners.
Ms Mberi’s registration to practise in Queensland came after the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council started looking into the complaints but before she was struck off the nursing register.
She didn’t return calls to comment from Fairfax Media.
Responding to the allegations, Ms Mberi claimed to have had the patient’s permission to withdraw the money.
In October 2015, the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia referred disciplinary proceedings against Ms Mberi over her lack of disclosure to QCAT.
The senior nurse contested the matter, saying she had spoken to an AHPRA officer called Duane on March 29, 2012, outlining that the UK allegations had been referred to police and she had pleaded guilty, accepted a caution and been fired.
According to Ms Mberi, Duane told her she would not have to formally notify AHPRA because there was no criminal conviction.
In an affidavit, Duane said he had no recollection of receiving the phone call but did not believe he would have given advice of that nature.
He noted a log of the call lasted only 23 seconds, which he did not believe was enough time listen to and respond to everything Ms Mberi claimed to have said.
The nurse later completed registration renewal forms saying she had not had her right to practise withdrawn or restricted and claimed to have made all necessary disclosures to AHPRA.
Ms Mberi denied all wrongdoing, saying she had only failed to complete the correct paperwork concerning withdrawing cash for a patient.
Ms Mberi told QCAT she did not dispute the allegations because she was moving to Australia with her family.
“(I) thought at the time that complying with whatever they said would make life easier for me,’ ” the judgment recorded her as saying.
“If I wasn’t coming to Australia yes I would have stayed to fight to the bitter end”.
Since May 2012, Ms Mberi’s employer had provided three-monthly updates to the board, describing her as a highly valued staff member and saying it did not have any concerns about her honesty or fitness to practise.
Her non-disclosure was found to be “misleading and careless or reckless” rather than “deliberately deceptive”. She was reprimanded, ordered to pay $10,000 in costs and undergo professional ethics training.
Health Minister Cameron Dick directed questions about Ms Mberi and whether other medical professionals working in Queensland had been deregistered overseas to the Townsville Hospital and Health Service.
The HHS did not answer Fairfax Media questions about the nurse’s employment, citing “privacy and confidentiality”.
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