25 Mar 2022
A Sydney woman who worked as a nurse at a medical centre despite not being qualified or registered to practise was on Wednesday convicted in her absence after failing to appear in the Windsor Local Court of New South Wales.
Belinda Elwell (also known as Belinda Raynor and Belinda Wilson) has never been registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
In early October 2020, Ms Elwell was offered a position as a registered nurse at a Sydney medical centre after completing an unrelated placement there. Ms Elwell had informed the centre that she was a registered nurse.
Despite not being qualified or registered to practise, she accepted this position and worked 14 shifts between 13 October and 7 December 2020. While working as a nurse at the centre, Ms Elwell attended to patients’ dressings, took blood samples, administered immunisations and vaccinations by injection and performed ECGs.
When asked to provide evidence of her registration, Ms Elwell provided a false registration number on a ‘sticky’ note. This number does not exist on the Register of nurses.
Ms Elwell resigned on 8 December 2020 after the centre requested a copy of her Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s (NMBA) registration certificate. She continued to insist she was a registered nurse.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the NMBA work together to protect the public by ensuring that only nurses and midwives who are suitably qualified and fit to practise can claim to be registered or qualified to practise.
Ahpra charged Ms Elwell with 16 counts of holding herself out as being registered in breach of section 116 of the National Law.
When Ms Elwell failed to appear, the Magistrate convicted her of all charges and issued a conviction warrant for Ms Elwell to be arrested and brought before the court for sentencing.
Ahpra keeps a public register of every health practitioner who is registered to practise in Australia in the 16 health professions regulated under the National Law, including nurses. Employers are encouraged to check the public register online to verify the registration of their staff.