Bogus nurse carried out 2,000 cervical smear tests and vaccinations on NHS patients over six yearsDenice Stewart spared jail after admitting posing as a registered nurseHatched plan after stealing mail belonging to a genuine nurse in 2002Judge criticises Nursery and Midwifery Council for their investigationsStewart evaded 'limited if non-existent' inquiries by the NMC
19:27 GMT, 6 March 2013
08:02 GMT, 7 March 2013
Bogus nurse: Denice Stewart has been spared jail after admitting theft, fraud, deception and forgery after posing as a registered nurse for six years
A woman with no medical training stole the identity of a nurse and spent six years carrying out hundreds of smear tests and vaccinations in GP surgeries, a court heard yesterday.
When Denice Stewart, 48, was finally arrested in July 2011, patients she had treated, many of them children, had to be offered retests and additional treatment.
During her sentencing for fraud yesterday, the judge accused Stewart of a ‘gross breach of trust’ but did not jail her.
He also criticised the Nursing and Midwifery Council for failing to investigate immediately when suspicions of the deception were raised as early as 2005.
In total, Stewart performed 1,100 vaccinations and 686 smear tests while working at three surgeries in Kent between 2006 and 2010.
Of 951 vaccinations she carried out at one practice, 515 were for children. During a previous job in Essex, she gave 67 jabs and carried out 46 smear tests.
The opportunity for her crime presented itself when she bought a house in Essex from nurse Amaya Lloyd-Johnson, who had moved to Canada but had neglected to inform the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which holds a register of all nurses and midwives.
Stewart received an application in the post addressed to Mrs Lloyd-Johnson asking her to renew her membership to the NMC. Instead of passing it on, Stewart completed it herself, Maidstone Crown Court heard.
Alan Gardner, prosecuting, said: ‘She dishonestly adopted the identity of a nurse. She worked at several general practice surgeries around the country carrying out a number of medical procedures which she was not qualified to undertake.’
Hearing: Maidstone Crown Court (pictured) heard Stewart vaccinated 1,167 adults and children and tested 732 women for cervical cancer while working unsupervised as a bogus nurse
He added: ‘The NMC didn’t check as
closely or fully as perhaps they should’ve done that the documents that
were sent to them were from Mrs Lloyd-Johnson.
‘The defendant stole the mail which arrived and used the contents to begin establishing herself as a fraudulent nurse.’
The mother of one applied for work as a
registered nurse in GP surgeries in various parts of Kent and Essex
using Mrs Lloyd-Johnson’s NMC identity number.
Mrs Lloyd-Johnson soon became aware
that her registration was being used by someone called Stewart and
alerted the NMC. But nothing was done and Stewart continued her fraud.
Fraud: Stewart hatched her plan in August 2002 after stealing mail which belonged to a genuine nurse who used to live in the Darlington home that she had recently bought
Over the years, Stewart made several
requests to change the name on her NMC identity card, each time making
it more closely resemble her own.
She then moved to Wales, where she
worked as an auxiliary nurse, which does not require an NMC card.
However she quickly applied for a registered general nurse job when one
Mr Gardner said: ‘She was becoming at that stage increasingly ambitious in terms of the work she was seeking.’
But when her employer at the Brecon
Medical Centre in South Wales examined her identity card, he realised it
had been tampered with and informed the NMC.
In 2011, the NMC finally cancelled her registration number. She was later arrested by police.
Peter Alcock, defending, said that
Stewart was a ‘fragile, vulnerable, damaged individual’ who had suffered
gynaecological problems and had tried to commit suicide.
He said the motivation for her crime,
which earned her nearly 74,000 over the years, was not economic, but
due to ‘low self-esteem and low self-worth’.
Sentencing her to 20 months’
imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Carey said: ‘You were
inhabiting a world in which you were deceiving others and deceiving
He added: ‘I reach the conclusion
that uppermost in your mind was the desire to have a status which you
had not earned and you did not deserve in order to beset your low
self-esteem and against a backdrop of an unhappy domestic life.’
Stewart had admitted eight charges,
mostly relating to fraud but also theft and forging of documents and
profiting from her role.