NHS Direct adviser 'told child caller that life is s*** and joked he would smash patient's windows'Michael McCarthy was answering calls at the NHS hotline in Cheshire when he was overheard by bosses making a catalogue of inappropriate comments



18:45 GMT, 3 December 2012

An NHS Direct adviser was overheard by his bosses telling a sick child 'life was full of s***' and joking that he would put a patient's 'windows in', a tribunal heard.

Michael McCarthy, a nurse who answered calls from patients at the NHS hotline, was placed under review after making clinical mistakes in 2009.

While listening in to random calls, bosses overheard the nurse, with nearly 30 years experience, making a catalogue of inappropriate comments and mistakes, the panel was told.

Hearing: The tribunal has been taking place at the NMC in London's Aldwych

Hearing: The tribunal has been taking place at the NMC in London's Aldwych

In a call from 'child A' McCarthy was heard saying: 'I'm sure my boss or whoever is listening to these kind of phone calls would shout at me for using rude words but you know life is full of s***.'

He also told the youngster he wished he had a magic wand so he could give her what she wanted and then repeated it to the youngster's mother, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard.

Aja Hall, for the NMC, said: 'You will hear from a manager, who will state it is never appropriate to use words such as s***.

'She will also say it was unhelpful to use words such as magic wand to a caller who was seeking help and assistance.'

McCarthy is also charged with exploring the symptoms of an asthmatic patient's depression when she phoned the hotline concerned about her breathing difficulties.

He was heard saying to this patient: 'Well as long as you make me one last promise, if you don't ring the doctor I will do your windows in.'

McCarthy then adds: 'I was kidding about that.'

He is also failed to properly respond when the distressed mother of a sick child told him her daughter was 'floppy'.

Ms Hall said: 'This call was made by a mother with a very sick young child.

'He didn't seem to be listening to the child's mother because on numerous occasions she uses the word floppy and he uses the word back to her.

Advice: McCarthy had been working at the NHS Hotline

Advice: McCarthy had been working at the NHS Hotline

'He didn't appreciate how serious a case was being presented to him.'

McCarthy, who is not attending the hearing in central London, is also accused of referring a child's case to social services without warning the mother, or seeking her consent.

'McCarthy never suggested to the mother in the telephone call that he intended to contact social services,' Ms Hall continued.

'He should have, but didn't, ask her for her consent to share this information with social services.

'Nursing advisers are instructed they must get the necessary consent from the mother or father before they pass these details on.'

The former mental health nurse, described as 'unsafe' by the inspectors who audited his calls, also failed to speak to a man threatening to harm himself, instead assessing her partner who called in.

Ms Hall said: 'Mr McCarthy took a call from the partner of an alcoholic.

'At the time of the call or just before it he was threatening to harm himself.

'What is very clear from the transcript of the call is he under takes an assessment of the caller rather than her partner.

'Throughout the phone call Mr McCarthy did not ask to speak to Patient E.'

McCarthy, who qualified as a nurse in 1982, sent the panel a letter informing them he has left the profession.

He has entered no plea to the charges, which could see him struck off from the nursing register if proved.

The hearing continues.