Nurse 'chased patient for sex'

A nurse who pursued a mental health patient for sex and showed her a movie that triggered suicidal thoughts has been struck off by the Health Disciplinary Tribunal today.

The tribunal this afternoon ruled the nurse be deregistered, on charges of malpractice and discrediting his profession, compounded by further "aggregating factors".

The nurse accepted the charges and agreed with the summary of facts.

The director of proceedings said the charges were especially serious given the context of the patient's vulnerability, her age (16 years younger than the nurse), and the position of trust and power occupied by the mental health nurse.

Throughout 2011, the nurse pursued an inappropriate relationship that led to a sexual relationship with the young woman admitted to the inpatient unit where he worked, the summary of facts said.

The woman was suffering "significant mental health issues".

While the woman was in hospital, the pair had intimate conversations and exchanged text messages.

Six weeks after her discharge the nurse travelled to visit the woman and they kissed. The woman later said she was unsure what was expected of her, as she had never been in a sexual relationship before, the summary said.

A week later she visited the nurse and they had sexual intercourse.

Following this, the woman said the nurse's attitude towards her changed. He told her to stay away because people at work were suspicious. He also told her he was being investigated by the health commission and not to contact him.

He later admitted this was a lie, the summary said.

However, in August, he visited her again and the sexual relationship continued.

During this visit, he bought and showed her the movie Sucker Punch, saying the main character, "Babydoll", reminded him of her. In later conversations, he referred to her as "Babydoll", which made her feel uncomfortable.

The movie, considered by the tribunal to be an "aggravating factor" in the case, is about a young woman who is institutionalised by her abusive stepfather. In the asylum where she and other girls are trapped, she is subjected to violence and sexual exploitation and ultimately undergoes a lobotomy.

Retrospectively, the nurse said it was "inappropriate" for him to show her the movie. The patient said the movie was a "trigger" for her.

Two days after seeing it, she tried to commit suicide.

After being admitted to hospital, she tried to kill herself again.

In December, the woman told her key worker about the relationship and the matter was reported to the district health board.

In January, the woman's mother complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner about services provided to her daughter by the nurse.

When interviewed, the nurse admitted the sexual relationship and has not worked as a nurse since.

He said he was mentally unwell during 2011, and at some point reported to his superiors he felt suicidal. He was told to take leave and seek help, but ignored this advice.

Interim suppression around the identity of the offender has been extended for three weeks, after which the tribunal will publish the decision and further details.