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Nurse Susan Potter-Clarke who fell asleep on night shifts at St Bart's Hospital in Rochester and now works at Maidstone Hospital ruled fit to practice

By Jenni Horn

A nurse who was refused time off and then fell asleep during her night shifts has been cleared of being unfit to practice.

Susan Potter-Clarke went before the Nursing and Midwifery Council charged with incompetence and misconduct.

She admitted three of the charges and a further two were proved, but the panel ruled her fitness to practice was not currently impaired.

St Barts Hospital, Rochester
St Barts Hospital, Rochester

Mrs Potter-Clarke worked night shifts at St Bart's Hospital, Rochester, which provides specialist rehabilitation to patients who have had a stroke, fall or major surgery.

She was accused of falling asleep on more than one occasion between April 2011 and December 2011 and sitting with her eyes closed, wrapped in a blanket.

She admitted she had fallen asleep on two occasions while at work.

The panel heard from two former colleagues who said they had seen her asleep or with her eyes closed.

One said she was often "extremely drowsy" and would fall asleep at the beginning of the night shift. Another said he had seen her "nodding off" at her desk.

However, the panel heard there was no evidence of actual patient harm and the potential for harm was "very slim".

Mrs Potter-Clarke was also accused of being unable to demonstrate the appropriate level of clinical knowledge. A former colleague told the hearing Mrs Potter-Clarke scored two out of 10 on a test to assess her drug calculations.

However, the panel heard that Mrs Potter-Clarke has since undertaken a course in the management and administration of medicines.

The hearing heard from a colleague at Maidstone Hospital, where Mrs Potter-Clarke now works, who said there were no issues regarding her competence.

NHS England has announced a boost for cancer services. Library image
NHS England has announced a boost for cancer services. Library image

In conclusion, the panel said Mrs Potter-Clarke's current practice is "very different to what it was in 2011".

The hearing heard she had been under personal pressures at the time and had asked management for time off but told she was "better off at work".

The panel told Mrs Potter-Clarke: "The panel took into account the personal pressures that you were under in 2011. It was satisfied that those issues are no longer present. The panel was satisfied that you now have insight into your failings and that such failings would not recur."

No sanctions were taken against Mrs Potter-Clarke.

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