A former enrolled nurse in Queensland who continued to practise despite being aware of his registration lapse was fined $8,000 and convicted of a charge brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra). He was also ordered to pay Ahpra’s legal costs of $1,500.
David Drawwater’s registration lapsed on 1 July 2019 after failing to renew it. Despite being unregistered, he continued to work as an enrolled nurse at an Ipswich senior care facility until his employment was terminated in November 2019 for unrelated reasons. During this time, Drawwater performed 35 shifts where he worked in a unit predominantly by himself at night and had the primary responsibility for up to 33 residents.
Ahpra protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified can claim to be registered. Falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner is a criminal offence under the National Law.
The former enrolled nurse failed to appear in court and was sentenced in his absence on 8 September 2021 by the Ipswich Magistrates’ Court of Queensland for one charge of holding himself out as an enrolled nurse in breach of the National Law.
In delivering the sentence, Acting Magistrate Scoines noted that Drawwater’s conduct involved a “serious breach of trust of the vulnerable people at the facility…” and that nurses are, “trusted professionals and they are strictly regulated for a reason.”
Ahpra CEO, Martin Fletcher, said,
“This court outcome is a reminder for all registered practitioners to keep up with their registration requirements. Registration renewal safeguards patients because practitioners must confirm they meet specific requirements to ensure they continue to be safe and competent to practise.”
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, said continuing to practise when unregistered was a serious breach of professional obligations.
“It is completely unacceptable for a nurse to continue practising after allowing their registration to lapse. The public has a high level of trust and confidence in the nursing profession and such actions put their safety at risk.”
Anyone with concerns about the registration of a practitioner can contact Ahpra on 1300 419 495.
Original story found on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.