Judge orders ‘acceleration’ in case against Dagenham nurse

A top judge has expressed concerns over the case of a Dagenham nurse whose career is in limbo after he was accused of sexually harassing colleagues.

Harry Douglas, of Arnold Road, faces claims that he was guilty of “a pattern of inappropriate behaviour” while working as a staff nurse for the Camden and Islington Community, Mental Health and Social Care Trust over a 16-month period in 2006 and 2007.

Although nothing has been proved against him, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), is investigating allegations that he subjected colleagues to “inappropriate sexual innuendo” which led to “sexual touching”.

In May last year, tight conditions were placed on his practice as a nurse, which have made it all but impossible for him to find work in the profession, although the NMC says they are “necessary to protect the public”.

Today, NMC barrister Shelley Brownlea, asked High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting to extend those conditions for another year, describing the allegations as “extremely serious”.

However, after reading a letter sent to the court by Mr Douglas, the judge, sitting at London’s High Court, said he was “troubled” by the long delay in dealing with the case and the impact on the nurse’s career.

He granted only a six-month extension after Ms Brownlea said the case would be prioritised and will probably now be heard by the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee in May next year.

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“I think the foot needs to be put on the accelator,” said the judge, who added that, although the allegations were “potentially grave”, the conditions on Mr Douglas’ practice are making it “hard, if not impossible” for him to find work within the profession.