‘Slurring nurse’ has suspension extended for another six months

A nurse who was found swaying from side to side and slurring her words with drugs belonging to residents scattered around her is facing an anxious wait over her career this week.

Cliona Finnegan, 32, behaved in a 'disgraceful' way while on duty at the Stella Maris nursing home in Tuam, County Galway, the UK-based Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

She left the medication in such disarray it took her colleagues four and a half hours to tidy up following the incident in August 2002.

She was struck off by the Irish nursing authority, An Board Altranais, in 2006 and her appeal against the decision was later dismissed by the Irish High Court.

Now living in Westminster, central London, she was suspended from practice by the NMC in February 2007.

At the High Court last week she was told her suspension - which was due to end last night (Wednesday ) would be extended for six months for the protection of the public.

At an earlier hearing Clare Strickland, for the NMC, had told how Finnegan was also found asleep while on duty and on one occasion she passed out in the room of a married couple.

At her appeal hearing in July 2006 Mr Justice Brian McGovern said in his ruling that Finnegan's conduct 'could be described as disgraceful'.

He said: 'I'm quite satisfied that the conduct of the appellant fell seriously short of the standards expected of a member of the nursing profession.

”It is fortunate that none of the residents were affected by her behaviour.

'Her conduct placed those in her care in danger.'

Ms Strickland had read out the judgement of Mr Justice McGovern, which included evidence that Finnegan 'was found on the floor of a bedroom belonging to a married couple'.

The judge added: “She was on the floor with her legs at the head of the bed. She did not seem to know what had happened. She was crying a lot.

'Later she heard a bang and found nurse Finnegan on the floor. She was given a coffee.

'The witness described the appellant's voice as slurred. She put her in a kitchen where she slept heavily.

'The witness noticed there was a strong smell from her mouth, and there was brown liquid around her lips.'

He added: 'She saw no drugs administered by the appellant. She described at one stage finding the appellant on the floor with tablets all around her.'

Another care assistant told the Irish High Court how she found drugs scattered around the medicine room.

Mr Justice McGovern said: 'Another witness rang the door and waited for some time. She asked the appellant for the medicine room door and was handed the key.

'She noticed a brown liquid stain on her. She then noticed all the drugs mixed up on the trolley and a brown liquid on the floor of the medicine room.

'The medication was in disarray. She noticed there was a stale smell on Nurse Finnegan.

'It took nurses four and a half hours to sort out the medication.'

The panel was told Finnegan initially went to the police claiming she had been falsely imprisoned by management at the care home.

Finnegan, who lived in Tralee, County Kerry, at the time of the incident, has admitted she was found guilty of professional misconduct by An Bord Altranais and was then struck off.

She has also admitted her fitness to practice was impaired.

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