Belfast Telegraph

Drug-dealing RVH nurse still on run 20 months after conviction led to her being struck off

 

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Lisa Smyth

By Lisa Smyth

A nurse convicted of theft and pushing drugs has evaded arrest for 20 months - even though she stayed in touch with the UK's nursing regulatory body, it can be revealed.

Deirdre McCallan (31) was found guilty in her absence of a series of drugs offences after she failed to turn up for her hearing at Belfast Magistrates Court in April last year.

The judge hearing the case issued a bench warrant, although she has not yet been arrested.

This is despite the fact her address, given in court as Park View in Dunmurry, is just a few miles away from Woodbourne Police Station.

When a bench warrant is issued, a letter is sent to the address of the defendant informing them that they need to present themselves to court.

Their details are also passed to the police, who are tasked with arresting the person as they are unlawfully at large.

However, McCallan has not yet appeared at court to be sentenced for her crimes.

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It can be revealed that as recently as December 11, McCallan was emailing the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) about her convictions and she also admitted that she is evading police.

A fitness to practise panel was told that a letter was sent to McCallan on November 12 of this year by recorded delivery to inform her of her impending hearing.

McCallan sent an email to the NMC the following day in which she said she would not attend the hearing, the panel was told.

She sent two further emails to the NMC on December 12 in which she stated that she would not be attending the hearing and that she was happy for the panel to proceed in her absence.

It also heard that McCallan had written to the NMC requesting that her fitness to practise hearing be held in private.

However, the panel ruled that it should proceed in public, with any matters relating to her health or personal circumstances to be discussed in private.

McCallan was working as a band five staff nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital when the offences occurred.

She was subsequently convicted of two counts of offering to supply a controlled class C drug, one count of supplying a class C drug and two counts of theft by an employee.

However, McCallan has been struck off the NMC's register after admitting her convictions, taking stolen diazepam while on duty between June and July 2016, failing to appear for trial at Belfast Magistrates Court and intentionally evading police by not responding to the bench warrant issued on April 10, 2018.

The fitness to practise hearing was told McCallan originally denied the charge of evading police, but in email correspondence on December 10 and 11 of this year she said she wanted to change her plea to guilty.

After hearing submissions from counsel and taking into account the written communications from McCallan, the NMC panel was satisfied that she understood and admitted deliberately evading arrest.

Delivering its findings, the NMC said McCallan's actions "fell significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse".

The panel continued: "The panel considered that Ms McCallan's actions brought the reputation of the nursing profession into disrepute, and put patients at risk of harm.

"The panel determined that these actions, both individually and collectively, were a serious breach of fundamental tenets of the nursing profession, honesty and integrity.

"It considered that Ms McCallan's actions fell seriously short of the conduct and standards expected of a nurse, were serious, and amounted to misconduct.

"The consumption of misappropriated diazepam whilst on duty was a serious breach of her position of trust and could have put patients at serious risk of harm. Honesty and integrity are fundamental tenets of the nursing profession, and Ms McCallan's actions breached these tenets."

The panel found while McCallan had shown some remorse, she had failed to show any insight or remediation and deemed that her fitness to practise was impaired.

Imposing a striking off order on McCallan, the NMC took into account the fact that she has a previous conviction for theft, that she abused her position of trust and attempted to involve her colleagues in her conduct, and that her misconduct took place over a prolonged period of time, in a clinical setting, and involved repeated dishonesty.

It added: "The panel also noted that Ms McCallan has still not responded to a bench warrant issued for her arrest, and the public would be extremely concerned to know that a registrant who was avoiding such a warrant was entitled to practise in any capacity.

"The panel concluded that Ms McCallan's actions are fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register."

The PSNI did not respond to a request for a comment.

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