11 Oct 2019
A South Australian disqualified nurse has pleaded guilty to charges that she falsely claimed to be registered while suspended.
Now disqualified (then suspended) nurse Helena Heaft, who presented herself as a registered nurse while working in a number of aged care facilities around Adelaide in 2018, today pleaded guilty to all 66 charges brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in the Magistrates Court of South Australia. The charges relate to conduct between 23 February and 19 June 2018.
The court today adjourned the sentencing of Ms Heaft to 23 December 2019.
Ms Heaft’s registration was suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) on 29 January 2018 after it determined that a suspension was appropriate to protect the health or safety of the public. On 18 June 2019 the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal disqualified Ms Heaft from applying for registration as a nurse for 25 years.
NMBA Chair Associate Professor Lynette Cusack said: ‘Nurses are among the most trusted professions in our community. There are standards that you must meet to call yourself a registered nurse. By falsely claiming to be registered when she was not, Ms Heaft abused the trust of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
‘The NMBA will always take action to keep the public safe and to protect the trust the community has in the profession,’ Associate Professor Cusack said.
Anyone with concerns about whether an individual is registered with a national health profession board can check the register of practitioners maintained by AHPRA or contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.
The maximum penalty available to the court in this case is $30,000 per offence.
In February 2019, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) was passed by the Queensland Parliament.
The amendments included increased penalties and introduced an imprisonment term of up to three years for offences against the National Law. The penalties will apply to offences committed after 1 July 2019.
The introduction of an imprisonment term means that some offences will automatically become indictable offences in all states and territories (except Western Australia).