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Nurse Joe Debrah suspended for failing to attend inquest into Koshalaya Sawhney's death at Darent Valley Hospital

A nurse who failed to appear at an inquest hearing as a witness has been suspended from the nursing register.

Joe Debrah, a nurse for 15 years, has been suspended for three months, after a Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct hearing.

Debrah worked as an agency staff nurse on Oak Ward at Darent Valley Hospital and was due to give evidence at an inquest into the death of Koshalaya Sawhney in March 2015.

Darent Valley Hospital
Darent Valley Hospital

But “without good reason”, he failed to attend Gravesend Old Town Hall, and was subsequently charged with contempt of court.

The inquest found that errors by hospital staff led to 85-year-old grandmother Mrs Sawhney, originally admitted to hospital for a hip problem, dying from a massive stroke last year.

"Debrah's actions breached a fundamental tenet of the nursing profession" - NMC panel

Debrah, from Erith, received notice of the inquest – which took place between March 9 and 16, 2015 – and the agency’s clinical nurse manager also gave evidence saying she and Debrah’s team manager made additional contact asking him to attend.

However, he refused, saying he would only go if the court “paid for his time and travel”.

Further contact was made by his superiors, but he said he had not done anything wrong, asked them to stop contacting him on the matter, and hung up on them.

He also told the panel he was away visiting his brother at the time. He said it was an emergency as his brother was ill, but then said it had been planned for a month, and that he had seen him recently.

The NMC, represented by Richard McLean, found that: “In respect of your oral evidence, the panel considered that you were evasive when answering questions.

Koshalaya Sawhney
Koshalaya Sawhney

“The panel was of the view that the evidence you gave was implausible, unreliable and contradictory at times.”

The panel concluded “Debrah’s actions breached a fundamental tenet of the nursing profession”.

During the hearing Debrah said he would have liked to have apologised to his colleagues and Mrs Sawhney’s family, but the panel was "not convinced that [Debrah] had sufficiently reflected upon [his] conduct or was genuine when making these comments".

The panel also considered that many of his answers were "equivocal or given grudgingly".

He was fined £250 last year by the coroner Roger Hatch.

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