Nurse accused of taking €5k from terminally ill patient

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

Nurse Elizabeth Yvonne Williamson, nee Claffey, who is the subject of the hearing, yesterday 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 fitness to practise inquiry.

Specifically, it is alleged while working at the Bloomfield Care Centre in Rathfarnham, Dublin, she used an ATM card without the consent of its owner, a resident with prostate cancer.

Ms Williamson allegedly withdrew more than €5,300 between October 10, 2011, and May 8, 2012.

It is also alleged the nurse, known as Yvonne 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.

Shortly before lunchtime yesterday, Ms Williamson admitted through her barrister that she did use the resident’s card without his permission for the transaction in Asda, in the North, an act that amounted to professional misconduct.

Roger Smith, deputy CEO and financial controller of Bloomfield Health Services, gave evidence yesterday. 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.

“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.”

The gardaí were informed. 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 surprised and shocked, 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,” he told the inquiry.

Healthcare assistant Shirley O’Toole, who worked with Ms Williamson at Bloomfield, praised the nurse in 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 that 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. “The man was in shock,” she said, when he realised how much money had been withdrawn.

The inquiry will continue at a later date.


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