Former Fife nurse struck off for sex with woman he had cared for as psychiatric patient

A nurse who had sex with a former psychiatric patient he befriended on Facebook has been banned from practice.

David Swankie linked up with four patients on Facebook while working as a community psychiatric nurse for NHS Fife at St Andrews Memorial Hospital.

He also repeatedly failed to see vulnerable patients referred to him within a reasonable time, failed to instigate and evaluate care plans and failed to keep notes about appointments.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council struck Mr Swankie from its register at a meeting in London.

He was found guilty of serious misconduct which put patients at risk and breached fundamental tenets of nursing.

Its conduct and competence committee upheld allegations regarding 29 patients, and concluded Mr Swankie had ”abused his professional position for his own ends”.

Mr Swankie’s behaviour during 2010 while at the St Andrews hospital, which has since closed, came to light after colleagues reported him smelling of alcohol.

Concerns raised later about the time a number of his clients had been on his waiting list were investigated and it was found 22 patients had waited more than 18 weeks for their first appointment.

Another colleague then raised the alarm about Mr Swankie’s sexual relationship with a patient.

A report published by the NMC on Thursday said the nurse had approached the woman at work and asked her to become his ”friend” on Facebook.

Mr Swankie claimed he believed the woman whom he had treated in the past but was no longer his patient had been discharged two weeks before the start of their relationship, which lasted at least five months. She was, however, awaiting a post-discharge meeting.

The report also said he had become Facebook friends with three other females who were or had been in his care.

It said: ”Mr Swankie’s behaviour in entering into Facebook friendships with Patients A, B, C and D went beyond what was appropriate. All of these people were, or had been, users of the community mental health service.

”For those who had been service users there was a risk of relapse and therefore the prospect that they would become service users again.

”Patient D was not a patient at the time that the sexual relationship began. However, she had been a patient for a considerable time and had only ceased to be a service user some 10 days previously.”

In three cases, Mr Swankie had been warned of urgent concerns about his patients, but had failed to act appropriately.

One patient who took an overdose of a highly-potent sedative waited almost 12 weeks to be seen despite two letters from her worried GP highlighting her deteriorating health and requesting an urgent appointment.

The council’s report said: ”Save that Mr Swankie has now admitted the charges, there is no evidence before the panel to demonstrate that Mr Swankie has shown any insight into his misconduct, or that he has taken any steps by way of remediation, or that he has shown any desire to do so.”

Mr Swankie was dismissed by NHS Fife after a disciplinary hearing in November 2010. The health authority previously confirmed it no longer employed Mr Swankie but declined to comment further on the outcome of the hearing.