A NURSE who sent "highly suggestive" sexual messages and pictures to a patient has received a Condition of Practice Order.

A misconduct hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was told that Benjamin John Appleton, a nurse who works for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals, exchanged sexual messages and pictures with the patient he had treated.

The patient – who can only be identified as Patient A – initially met Appleton at a party at the beginning of 2020, and then in August of that year, he provided hospital care to them.

Appleton then searched for the patient on Facebook and engaged in several conversations with them between August and October 2020, which led to sexual messages and pictures being sent.

The hearing heard how the messages caused the patient distress, and they had complained to a number of staff members about the messages.

Appleton was then suspended while an investigation took place. 

The panel considered the best action against Appleton and found a Condition of Practice Order of 12 months and an Interim Conditions of Practice Order of 18 months was the best route.

This means he must limit employment with the Worcestershire NHS Trust, ensure he is supervised by a registered nurse while working, keep a reflective practice profile, keep the NMC up to date with where he is working or studying, and immediately give a copy of these conditions to future employers.

A spokesperson for the NMC said: "In the panel's judgement, this should be sufficient time (12 months) for you to develop your insight to a satisfactory degree and to acquire evidence from your professional colleagues about your insight, how you have strengthened your practice and how you would handle a situation were you attracted to a patient in the future.

"Before the order expires, a panel will hold a review hearing to see how well you have complied with the order."

Appleton has also taken steps to correct his actions by enrolling himself on professional development courses.

The panel did say that despite the messages desiring a physical relationship with a patient, one did not develop and the messages were mutually exchanged. 

Sarah Shingler, chief nursing officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We carried out a full investigation as soon as we became aware of the concerns raised and took the appropriate disciplinary action.

"We are complying fully with the conditions set out by the NMC and will continue to provide supervision and support for our members of staff.”