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Yorkshire nurse struck off over smear test deception


A nurse has been struck off after carrying out hundreds of smear tests she was unqualified to perform.

The nurse, Alison Watts, had failed a course but lied to her employer and subsequently performed 461 tests over two years on women in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire.

As a result of her deception, all the women involved had to be invited for a re-test.

Ms Watts, who also falsified references during an investigation, admitted misconduct before a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel hearing.

All the women had undergone smear tests by Ms Watts at Undercliffe GP surgery, Heckmondwike, between June 2015 and November 2017 but she had previously failed to complete the relevant part of a course run by the University of York.

The high number of patients affected, and the need for them to have "additional invasive procedures" as a result were cited as aggravating factors by the NMC panel.

Ms Watts also admitted creating two fake references for her defence when the allegations were first investigated by an NMC committee in 2018.

At a final hearing, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel said her actions "had the potential to put patients at significant risk of harm” although it also noted that there "was no evidence of actual harm having occurred.”

The investigation also found Ms Watts had failed to perform necessary audits on samples taken and her smear test performance.

Her deception was uncovered after NHS England was informed in November 2017 that she had failed the necessary course.

An unexplained error meant Ms Watts' failure to complete her course did not show on a national database. Following an internal investigation, Ms Watts was discharged by the surgery.

At the NMC hearing, the panel said the additional failure by Ms Watts not to monitor her own practice in taking smears included "the potential for missed diagnoses and associated patient harm.”

By continuing to carry out smears she "showed a concerning lack of integrity", the panel concluded.