Sussex hospital nurse who stole £56,000 for luxury cars faces being struck off

An Sussex hospital nurse who conned a family member out of £56,000 and spent it on luxury cars and holidays faces being struck off.

Barnett worked at Eastbourne Hospital but resigned after police contacted her
Barnett worked at Eastbourne Hospital but resigned after police contacted her

Margarita Barnett took the money from a family member who lived abroad, claiming that she was ‘suffering financially’, a hearing was told.

The former Eastbourne Hospital nurse told a disciplinary panel she recognised the need for nurses to be considered trustworthy but said that it would be ‘a dream’ to continue as a nurse.

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A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel found that her fitness to practise was impaired due to her conviction and she is to be struck off the nursing register.

The registered nurse and midwife (NMC PIN 05C0136E) is currently subject to a suspension order for 18 months to allow for any appeal. If no appeal is made she will be struck off.

'It was made clear you could only make withdrawals in an emergency'

The panel heard that Barnett was a cosignatory on the UK bank account of a relative, identified as ‘Ms 1’.

Barnett was told at the hearing: “Ms 1 stated that she opened the bank account for her use only and had made it clear to you that you could only make withdrawals in an emergency and with her permission.

“You made a significant number of withdrawals from Ms 1’s account without Ms 1’s permission. You did not make any repayments into the account.”

According to the panel’s report – which can be read on the NMC website – the money stolen amounted to £56,000.

Resignation from Eastbourne Hospital

Barnett was contacted by police on February 5, 2017 and charged with theft.

In May of that year she took early retirement from Eastbourne Hospital and referred herself to the NMC.

She was convicted of theft at Lewes Crown Court in February 2018 after pleading not guilty, the panel heard.

She was given an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

The money has since been repaid and the unpaid work completed, and Barnett has been working at a nursing home as a registered nurse two days a week.

Speaking on her behalf at the hearing, a Mr Macdonald argued that her nursing practice does not present any risk to members of the public and that the dishonesty did not relate to her profession.

'Your actions have brought the profession into disrepute'

However the hearing was told: “The panel determined that your actions and resulting conviction have brought the profession into disrepute.

“The panel considered the fact that the sum of money stolen in your case was considerable, specifically £56,000 and that this was obtained through making 26 withdrawals over a sustained period of time.”

They told Barnett: “You have demonstrated only a superficial understanding of the impact this conviction will have on the profession, your employer, your colleagues and family.”

The panel decided to impose an interim suspension order. This is to allow for an appeal to be made and determined.

If no appeal is made the interim order will be replaced with a striking-off order, the panel said.