Nurse suspended for calling patient 'dirty filthy old lady making noise'

Nurse Pius Igwe was working at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro at the time of the incident that got him suspended
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)


A hospital nurse has been suspended for for calling some of the patients in his care a "disgusting human being" and "a dirty filthy old lady making noise". Pius Igwe was banned for six months for misconduct by a Fitness to Practise Committee panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The suspension was imposed by the regulator for nursing and midwifery professions in the UK on December 21 last year following a misconduct hearing. The panel heard then that during a nightshift at the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske in Truro in October 2021, Mr Igwe made the uncaring and unprofessional comments to and about patients in his care.

In addition, he left a visually and hearing impaired patient with soiled bedding, did not response to the care needs of one or more of the patients allocated to him and refused to look after them saying that "care rounds are not his job" and "he does not touch women".

Read next: 'Sick and twisted' builders conned customers and made off with £20K

Read next: Man stabbed in Cornish town centre

The panel also heard that on another occasion Mr Igwe cleaned a patient aggressively and continued to do so after the patient complained to him about it. Around the same time, the nurse also shouted at colleagues that it was not his job to clean patients and also told one female patient she would have to wait until the morning for someone else to clean her after soiling her bed.

The NMC panel decided then that Mr Igwe's fitness to practice as a nurse had been impaired and he was suspended for six months. In their report, panel members - chairman James Lee, Amanda Revill and Dora Wait - wrote: "Nurses occupy a position of privilege and trust in society and are expected at all times to be professional and to maintain professional boundaries.

"Patients and their families must be able to trust nurses with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They must make sure that their conduct at all times justifies both their patients’ and the public’s trust in the profession."

Get the best stories and latest news delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you want here.

Mr Igwe's suspension has come up for review by the NMC, with options being looked at including a longer suspension from nursing, being struck off from the profession, full reinstatement or a reinstatement with conditions, which is the option the panel has chosen.

The nurse, who no longer works for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), has worked as a healthcare assistant in a number of care homes in Cornwall between 2021 and 2023 and as a delivery driver for Evri since then, and has not worked in an healthcare setting since the incident which led to the disciplinary hearing.

However the panel has been told that Mr Igwe is keen to return to nursing, possibly within the prison service. In his submission to being reinstated as a nurse, Mr Igwe's solicitor Carl Buckley, on behalf of the Royal College of Nursing, said the former nurse had "gone back to the basics of caring for others, to allow you the opportunity to see situations from another perspective".

Mr Buckley told the panel that Mr Igwe had acknowledged that there were "some basic aspects of care that he had forgotten". He told the panel: "He has acknowledged that he needed to change certain aspects of his clinical practice, and that he has taken positive steps in terms of further training, and self-reflection.

"He understands that there is still progress to be made regarding the concerns. The six-month period of suspension has protected the public and served the public interest and has allowed him to focus on what went wrong and what he must do in the future to ensure that his actions are not repeated."

The NMC panel has agreed that the suspension order will be lifted when it ends on July 24. However, while this means that Mr Igwe can practice nursing once again, the NMC panel said the organisation still believes his ability to do the job properly remains impaired and it has imposed several conditions before he can be out on a ward again.

The panel said: "In its consideration of whether you have taken steps to strengthen your practice, the panel took into account that you have undertaken relevant training courses to develop your insight and strengthen your practice.

"However, the panel considered that you are not currently working in a patient facing role, and have not done so since 2023, therefore you have not had the opportunity to provide evidence to demonstrate that you can apply your learning and self-reflection into your clinical practice. As such, the panel determined that your fitness to practise remains impaired on the grounds of public protection alone."

The NMC has now imposed a 12-month order on Mr Igwe to ensure, that should he find a position as a nurse, he abides by certain conditions with a view to further protect patients. Some of the conditions imposed on him include having only one nursing employer.

He will also need to be supervised by another registered nurse any time he is working. Mr Igwe will also need to work with his line manager, supervisor, and/or mentor to create a personal development plan in relation to patient care, communication and teamwork.

He must also inform the NMC of any nursing job he applies for and takes on and any further studies he undertakes. Finally he must inform any potential new employer of the conditions imposed on him by the NMC and must tell his case worker of any clinical incident he might be involved in, any investigation started against him and any disciplinary proceedings taken against him within seven days.

Should he fail to comply with the conditions of his 12-month order Mr Igwe has been told he could face being struck off from the nursing profession for good or have another order imposed on him with different conditions.