Head of nursing 'made staff cry'
THE former head of nursing at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital was a 'bully' who endangered patients by running wards on a skeleton staff, it is claimed.
Janice Harry is accused of cutting payroll costs and recommending measures designed to leave unqualified staff outnumbering qualified nurses.
She 'aggressively' rejected concerns raised by staff at the hospital, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard yesterday.
William Davis, for the NMC, said Harry presided over an 'unacceptable decline in the standards of nursing care offered' at the hospital.
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He said: "The case is based on serious failings in her management role. The NMC say she wholly failed to ensure appropriate staffing levels, and the correct skill mix.
"The NMC also say she adopted an aggressive management style, which created an unpleasant atmosphere for staff."
The barrister added that staff felt 'unable to report problems', were treated rudely, and sometimes 'reduced to tears' by her rebukes.
He added: "These failures amounted to misconduct."
Harry worked for the the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 1998 and the summer of 2006.
The allegations include Harry refusing to even look at 'incident report' forms brought to her by staff, and of failing to ensure the A&E unit was properly staffed.
Mr Davis said she advised the trust's board that the ratio of qualified to unqualified nurses could be reduced to 4:6 'without affecting patient care.'
He said: "This was an attractive proposal because it was seen by many as a cost-saving measure."
He added that there seemed to be a concern to meet Government targets rather than focus on patient care.
Harry has been suspended from nursing since 2010.
A previous hearing against two A&E nurses accused of faking patient records to meet waiting time targets heard Harry was part of a 'bullying culture.'
Joanna Harvey, now a ward manager at the hospital, was a senior staff nurse when Harry was nursing director.
She said Harry had a habit of shouting at nurses who had made mistakes, and would 'make them cry'.
She added: "I would described Jan as a bully."
A public inquiry into appaling standards at Stafford Hospital concluded last month. Official documents suggest up to 1,200 more patients than expected died at the Weston Road site between 2005 and 2008.
Harry denies the allegations and the hearing was expected to continue today.