Son: Nurse bequest OK

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2014

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The son of a couple who bequeathed $315,000 to a nurse who cared for them before their deaths says he holds no animosity towards her.

Alex Allardyce said he had accepted a New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (NZHPDT) decision to dismiss two charges of professional misconduct against Judith Lynch, a registered Christchurch nurse.

A Professional Conduct Committee alleged Lynch provided nursing services to Robin and Barbara Allardyce from 2006 to 2010 when she did not hold a practising certificate.

She then inappropriately and/or unethically accepted a substantial bequest from each of their wills, the committee alleged.

Alex Allardyce said yesterday there was "no point in bitterness" over the dismissal of the allegations.

While the bequest was a lot of money, it was time to move on, the Wellington man said.

"There's been a fair amount of emotional energy, from all parties, involved. At the end of the day, [Lynch] made a big difference to my parents' quality of life, particularly in their later years. I was grateful for that," he said.

"It was their money to give. It's time to put it to rest."

The NZHPDT released its decision after a hearing in February.

It detailed that Lynch moved into a Cashmere property beside the Allardyces, which the ailing couple had bought, in 2006.

Lynch was a long-time friend and former neighbour, and Robin Allardyce spoke to family about her providing them with assistance.

Barbara Allardyce suffered from Parkinsons Disease and Lewy Body Dementia, while Robin Allardyce suffered from minor strokes, gout, polymyalgia attacks and bouts of pneumonia.

The Allardyces were known as a generous couple and had already included Lynch in their wills to reflect their "close friendship and gratitude for help over the years", the decision said.

Barbara Allardyce was a former editor at The Times in London and Robin Allardyce was a retired banker.

The couple executed their final wills in June 2009, increasing their bequest to Lynch from $225,000 to $315,000.

At the time, Alex Allardyce told his father he felt the bequest to Lynch was disproportionate to that left to closer long-term friends, the decision said.

Lynch's practising certificate expired in December 2005.

Lynch said in an affidavit to the tribunal that she felt she had acted towards the couple "as a caregiver and a close friend".

She said she was unaware they would leave her a gift in their respective wills.

Witnesses, including friends of Lynch and the Allardyces, said they believed Lynch cared for the couple as a friend who had nursing skills, and did not appear to be on "nursing duty".

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One described Lynch transporting family to and from doctors, cleaning up, foot care, washing Barbara Allardyce's hair, cooking and shopping for the couple.

Another said Lynch told her she was paying reduced rent in return for her support, but Lynch denied this.

Barbara Allardyce, 82, died in March 2010.

Lynch administered morphine in the last 24 hours before her death. The tribunal found this was done in transparent circumstances that "fell into the category of next of kin or surrogate family member".

Robin Allardyce, 90, died from pneumonia the following month. His emails showed Lynch gave him advice about antibiotics, dressings and ointments.

"Whilst these activities could be construed as indicating a nursing role, when considered accurately in context, they were the actions of a very close family friend," the tribunal said.

"Her actions were not those of a professional nurse providing services which could only have been given by a registered nurse."

Lynch renewed her practising certificate in August 2010.

- The Press

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