A terminally ill cancer patient chose not to press charges against a nurse who allegedly withdrew money from his account without his consent because "he didn't want to see her again", a disciplinary inquiry heard today.
Nurse Elizabeth Yvonne Williamson nee Claffey, who is the subject of the hearing, today admitted to one factual allegation, and that it amounted to professional misconduct.
Ms Williamson is facing allegations of professional misconduct and non-compliance with the code of professional conduct at the fitness-to-practise inquiry, which began yesterday at the Nursing and Midwifery Board's headquarters in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Specifically, it is alleged that Ms Williamson, while working at the Bloomfield Care Centre in Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, used an ATM card belonging to a resident, who was suffering from prostate cancer, without his consent, to withdraw large sums of money.
Ms Williamson allegedly withdrew more than €5,300 at various times between 10 October 2011 and 8 May 2012.
It is also alleged that Ms Williamson, who was known as Yvonne Claffey during her time at Bloomfield, retained the money for her own use and benefit.
It is further alleged that in April 2012, Ms Williamson used the resident's card without his consent to make a purchase of just over €250 while shopping at an Asda shop in the North.
This afternoon, Ms Williamson admitted through her barrister that she did use the resident's card without his permission for the transaction in Asda, and that this amounted to professional misconduct.
Roger Smith, deputy CEO and financial controller of Bloomfield Health Services, described the now deceased resident, referred to as KD, as a “frail, elderly gentleman with significant physical health problems. He had cancer and subsequently received palliative care”.
Mr Smith told the inquiry that he reviewed KD's bank statements after concerns over potential unauthorised withdrawals were raised in 2012.
Mr Smith noted that a withdrawal of €120 was made from KD's account on 10 October 2011, another €400 was withdrawn on 17 October, and €600 was withdrawn on 29 November.
The statement indicated that this last withdrawal was made from an ATM at the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, across the city from the Bloomfield Centre in Rathfarnham.
"The amounts were the first indication that something unusual was happening," said Mr Smith.
"These were unusual because there's no obvious need for KD to be withdrawing these amounts of money."
Gardaí were informed of the matter but KD later decided to not pursue a case through the courts.
"KD expressed reluctance in being involved with a court case, saying he did not wish to see Ms Williamson again," Mr Smith told the inquiry.
Health care assistant Shirley O'Toole, who worked with Ms Williamson at Bloomfield Care Centre, praised the nurse in her evidence.
"It was brilliant working with Ms Claffey," Ms O'Toole said. "She was an excellent boss."
In October 2012, while checking KD's chart, Ms O'Toole saw some of KD's bank statements and noticed a number of large withdrawals from the account.
As KD did not often leave the premises, Ms O'Toole believed that the high number of withdrawals meant that someone else had access to his account. Ms O'Toole brought this to the attention of a senior colleague.
The following month, KD received a bank statement. At his request, Ms O'Toole went over the statement with KD.
"The man was in shock" when he realised how much money had been withdrawn from his account, Ms O'Toole said.
Ms Williamson worked at Bloomfield Care Centre from 2009 until she resigned from her position there in July 2012.
She currently works as a Clinical Nurse Manager 2 at another mental health and residential care facility in Dublin, the inquiry heard, where she does not have access to patients' finances.
The inquiry will continue at a later date.