Heckmondwike nurse struck off after carrying out 500 smear tests when she wasn't qualified

A nurse who carried out cervical smear tests on almost 500 women when she wasn’t qualified has been struck off.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 11:03 am

Alison Watts, who worked for Undercliffe Surgery at Heckmondwike Health Centre, was branded “dishonest.”

Watts carried out the procedures over a 27-month period until concerns were raised.

After it was found she hadn’t passed the required qualification all 461 women had to be recalled for new tests.

A nurse who worked in Heckmondwike has been struck off

Watts admitted nine charges when a case was brought against her by the Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practice Committee. A virtual hearing went ahead in her absence and a report of the findings has been published online.

Watts carried out the tests while unqualified between September 2015 and November 2017 while working at Undercliffe Surgery. When the GP practice discovered she had not passed she was dismissed.

It emerged she had also failed to properly monitor results, which could have led to misdiagnosis.

And when she was investigated, Watts provided false character references from colleagues which the committee described as “recycled” and were meant to deceive.

The report said: “It was incumbent upon Watts to ensure that she was suitably qualified to conduct smear tests. It was her duty to check if she had been awarded the qualification and she did not.

“Furthermore, Watts continued to undertake cervical screening procedures despite this. The actions of Watts had the potential to put patients at significant risk of harm, although it is accepted that there is no evidence of actual harm having occurred.”

The report added: “By continuing to carry out cervical smear tests despite the Registrant’s knowledge that she had never completed and passed the relevant course shows a concerning lack of integrity.

“These elements amount to a breach of the duty of candour. This also clearly has the potential to impact on patients in the Registrant’s care.

“The Registrant wilfully and deliberately submitted falsified documents in support of her character.

“This was done to mislead a panel of the Investigating Committee and amounts to dishonesty for personal gain.

“Although the gain may not have been directly financial, it was a deception with the intent to gain professional credibility.”

The panel imposed an interim suspension banning Watts from practising immediately. She had 28 days in which to appeal the striking off.