JOONDALUP Health Campus has “unreservedly” apologised to two patients who were sexually exploited by a hospital nurse who was last week banned from practising for seven years.
In a decision released last Monday, the State Administrative Tribunal found Timothy John Brian Buckby had taken advantage of his position as a mental health nurse in 2012 to form a relationship with patients who were “vulnerable and lonely persons”.
He was facing allegations of professional misconduct from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
Buckby resigned in July, 2012, when the matters were being investigated. He denied the allegations, but did not appear at a final tribunal hearing last month.
“The hospital commends the patients involved for raising their concerns and apologises unreservedly for any distress they have experienced,” a JHC spokesman said.
The most serious of the two cases involved a woman, now 50, who Buckby accosted several times during her stay in the mental health unit in February, 2012.
He continued to contact her after she was discharged in March.
She told the tribunal she was ‘petrified’ when Buckby entered her room one night, put his hand over her mouth and had sex with her despite her telling him to stop.
The tribunal heard that after the woman was discharged Buckby contacted her on her mobile phone making comments to the effect of ‘you know you want me’ and ‘you can’t say anything or you will get into trouble’.
The woman said she had not reported the matter straight away because she was concerned about Buckby’s threats, which also included: ‘If social services knew, you could lose your son’.
Buckby later became involved with a woman, now 58, who was admitted to the ward in June.
The tribunal report stated he had kissed the woman on the mouth and would often come into her room “to see if they could kiss and cuddle”.
In handing down its penalty, the tribunal found Buckby’s conduct with the first woman was “clearly non-consensual”.
The tribunal accepted his dealings with the second woman were consensual, but viewed them as “a gross violation of the boundaries of trust” between patient and nurse.
It was satisfied both women provided honest accounts, which were supported by hospital psychologists.
Buckby’s nursing registration was cancelled, he received a five-year ban for his conduct with the first patient and a two-year ban for his conduct with the second.
The JHC spokesman said the hospital “welcomed and supported the decision”.
“The hospital notified the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency of serious allegations on 16 July 2012 as soon as concerns were identified,” he said.
In responding to questions about whether the hospital’s screening process for employees was reviewed after the incidents, he said:
“The hospital’s employment checks are continually reviewed to ensure they meet best practice.
“All clinicians are required to provide evidence of professional registration and appropriate police clearances on employment and to maintain their professional registration throughout their employment.
“These requirements have not changed.”