Director of children’s hospice denies allegations of misconduct
The director of care at Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in Sully, South Wales, has denied allegations of misconduct relating to a teenage girl suffering from leukaemia.
Jayne Saunders has appeared before a Nursing and Midwifery Council to defend herself against allegations of professional misconduct.
It is alleged that she failed to deal appropriately with a request from the terminally-ill teenager – referred to only as “Child S” – to have a birthday sleepover at the hospice.
Mrs Saunders is said to have “rolled her eyes” when discussing the birthday sleepover with Child S and her parents.
It is alleged that Mrs Saunders gave insufficient consideration to the feelings of Child S and her parents when talking about the birthday sleepover.
It is also alleged that the director of care at Ty Hafan “required” that Child S consented to regular examinations by hospice staff as a condition for her and her family to remain there.
Barnaby Hone, counsel for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), suggested that Mrs Saunders had given a “blank ultimatum” to Child S: she could either stay at the hospice and have checks by the care staff or leave – but hospice staff knew full well that there was nowhere else she could go.
In his opening statement, Mr Hone told the NMC hearing, which took place at Temple Court in Cardiff, that Child S had “a very severe form of leukaemia”.
He said: “She had broken her leg and was limited in where she could go. The only place suitable for care was Ty Hafan hospice.
“She was dying and it was clear that she was a terminal patient.”
Child S, who was “very protective over her privacy”, had been transferred from University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff to Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in Sully on February 18, 2008.
She found it hard being on a ward with other patients at UHW so Ty Hafan had seemed like a “safe haven”, Mr Hone told the hearing.
The dispute between the hospice management and Child S’s parents began after Child S’s mother noticed a red mark on her and reported it to hospice staff.
She was told that in order to remain at the hospice she would have to allow her body to be checked by nurses.
Mr Hone explained the decision Child S faced: “If she did not have those checks she had to leave.”
He added: “The management of Ty Hafan knew she had no other place to go.”
Mr Hone said that a meeting about the checks, which took place on March 20, 2008, raised some important points.
Given that Child S guarded her privacy very closely, why couldn’t Child S’s mother carry out these checks instead of a hospice nurse?
He asked: “Was Child S given a blank ultimatum in the meeting on 20th March to either stay and have the checks or leave?”
Hospice staff claimed that Child S’s mother could not carry out the checks herself, as these could only be done by qualified nurses.
However, Mr Hone said that in fact, an individual who was not a qualified nurse carried out the checks on Child S.
Mrs Saunders is alleged to have failed to ensure that Child S was giving informed consent to regular examinations performed by care team members.
Mrs Saunders, who joined Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in 1998 as clinical team leader and became director of care in 2006, denies all the charges.
A Ty Hafan spokesman said: “We will await the conclusion of the hearing before commenting.”
The hearing continues.