Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Tribunal cancels nurse's registration for professional misconduct
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Tribunal cancels nurse's registration for professional misconduct

21 Jan 2021

A registered nurse who put offensive statements on Facebook has had his registration cancelled by a tribunal for professional misconduct.

Stanley Horne was referred to the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal (the tribunal) by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) for conduct it alleged was professional misconduct involving numerous offensive comments made on social media between February 2017 and June 2017.

The comments posted on Mr Horne’s Facebook page were open to the public and were a mixture of racially, culturally and sexually offensive statements. They also contained vilifying content.

The NMBA considered that the comments were inconsistent with the expected behaviour of nurses as outlined in its codes of conduct and ethics (in force at this time), social media policy and the high standards of practice and professionalism expected of nurses registered in Australia.

In December 2020, the tribunal agreed that Mr Horne had engaged in professional misconduct. He was reprimanded and his registration was cancelled.

The tribunal noted that Mr Horne’s repugnant comments took place for an extended period and had the potential to seriously undermine public confidence in the nursing profession.

If it were not for Mr Horne having already been suspended for a lengthy period, the tribunal said it may have also imposed a three-year disqualification period given the seriousness with which it viewed his behaviour.

Mr Horne conceded that he had made the offensive comments and that his behaviour amounted to professional misconduct.

When the alleged conduct occurred, Mr Horne was not practising due to his registration having been suspended by the NMBA in August 2016 for conduct that was referred to the tribunal following a notification. This matter was ultimately not pursued in the tribunal and Mr Horne’s registration has been suspended since 2016.

Mr Horne no longer appears on the national register of practitioners. He is now on the register of cancelled practitioners.

The tribunal’s decision is published on the AustLII website.

Page reviewed 21/01/2021