NURSE Rachel Ann Harris told a misconduct investigation she had taken syringes and bandages from East Cheshire NHS Trust for sessions with school children.

Miss Harris was employed as a registered nurse at the trust, where she had practised for at least seven years before the alleged incidents.

She worked in the medical assessment unit before being moved in December 2014 to the acute assessment unit, where she was the medical nurse practitioner on the unit.

A misconduct hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Fitness to Practice Committee was told in November or December 2015 Miss Harris worked a shift alongside a health care assistant.

It was alleged that at the end of the shift Miss Harris took syringes, needles and bandages from the clinic without permission and did so dishonestly.

Miss Harris was also charged with failing to co-operate with an investigation by the council into her fitness to practise.

The charges relating to taking the syringes and bandages, which Miss Harris accepted, were found proved, but the allegation relating to taking the needles, which she denied, was found not proved.

The charges that taking the items was dishonest and that Miss Harris failed to co-operate with the investigation were also found proved.

The committee made a suspension order for 12 months because the panel believed the seriousness of the case required temporary removal from the register.

It was satisfied that a period suspension would be sufficient to protect patients and mark the public interest in the case.

A report by the committee said that the health care assistant who allegedly saw Miss Harris taking the clinical items, said Miss Harris said she was taking them ‘for kids to play with because they liked to play doctors’.

A disciplinary meeting in 2016 recorded Miss Harris having said said “I feel so stupid; it never occurred to me that it was theft. I have done sessions with school kids for the last six to seven years…I haven’t done any sessions for about 18 months but due to do one soon”.

She said the next session was to be at a school for 11 to 15-year-olds excluded from other areas, but inquiries with the school revealed it had no knowledge of any sessions.

The report said: “The panel did not consider Miss Harris genuinely believed she had permission to take the items, or that she took them to carry out teaching in local schools.

“The panel was of the view that in relation to the dishonesty found proved, although this represented a clear breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession, it related to a single incident of taking clinical items without permission, and there has been an admission by Miss Harris to the trust of taking items without permission and a recognition she should not have done so.”

Given the suspension order would not take effect for at least 28 days, an 18-month interim suspension order was agreed to allow for the possibility of an appeal.

If no appeal is made the interim order will be replaced by the suspension order 28 days after Miss Harris has been sent the hearing decision.