Nurses sacked for sleeping on ward for suicidal patients

Two nurses who were meant to be watching over suicidal patients were allegedly caught sleeping on the job.

Patient Christopher Smith, 32, claims to have discovered the two workers asleep in a nursing office in Maidstone, Kent on October 13.

Mr Smith was mourning the loss of a stillborn child and his grandmother when he was talked down from a bridge by passers-by and police the night before.

He was taken to the crisis wing at Priority House, which cares for people at the highest risk of suicide.

However, he claims that when he woke up at 4am and ‘couldn’t stop thinking about hurting himself’, he found the two workers asleep.

Mr Smith, who has been diagnosed with personality disorder, said: ‘When you’re in that moment of crisis and you can’t remember why you’re there, you just need to speak to someone.

‘I’d been brought in the night before and woke up around 4am.

‘I still really needed to talk to someone as I couldn’t stop thinking about hurting myself.

‘I tapped on a door but got no answer, so I tried again.

‘Then I peeked around a window and saw them sleeping.

‘I thought no way, I couldn’t believe it.

‘I felt even more frustrated that these two ladies were actually being paid to sleep, there’s people crying out for these jobs who could be helping others who are in a crisis.’

The nursing office is reportedly not covered by CCTV cameras.

Staff at Priority House get a one-hour break and some may want to spend it sleeping in a separate break room during their eleven hour overnight shift.

Mr Smith made an official complaint to the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KPMT), which is responsible for Priority House.

In a statement, a spokesman said an investigation had been carried out and the two nurses would not be working with the KMPT again.

A KPMT spokesman said: ‘We are grateful to the person who quite rightly raised this concern with us.

‘As soon as it was brought to our attention, we carried out an investigation and found those concerned were employed through an agency and NHS Professionals and were not permanent staff of KMPT.

‘This type of behaviour is not what we expect from anyone providing care to our patients and they will not work with us again.

‘Both employing organisations have been asked to carry out their own investigations.’

NHS Professionals, an organisation that provides temporary staff to NHS trusts, released the following response: ‘NHS Professionals is carrying out an immediate investigation into this issue.

‘We are working with KMPT to understand the circumstances of the incident.

‘The worker has been excluded from working any further shifts through NHS Professionals.’

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