Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Nurse who worked at different aged care services during COVID-19 found to have engaged in professional misconduct
Look up a health practitioner


Check if your health practitioner is qualified, registered and their current registration status

Nurse who worked at different aged care services during COVID-19 found to have engaged in professional misconduct

03 Aug 2023

A tribunal has found that an enrolled nurse engaged in professional misconduct when she practised at two regional health services. Australian government principles were in place that prevented her from working at multiple sites.

She misled one service as to the nature of her work at the other service. She also worked at the second service after an outbreak of COVID-19 at the first service and before getting tested.

The nurse’s conduct had the potential to put other staff and patients at increased risk of COVID-19 infection. When she subsequently tested positive to COVID-19 the second service was declared to have an outbreak and went into isolation. 

Under the Australian government orders, in identified areas, aged care employees working in two or more facilities were required to limit their work to a single site, being the facility at which they worked the most. 

The first service operated both an aged care unit and an acute hospital in Koo Wee Rup in Cardinia Shire. The second was an aged care service in Junction Village in the City of Casey. Both services were in local government areas the Victorian Government had identified as hotspots.

On 4 May 2023, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) handed down its decision.

The tribunal found that the nurse had engaged in professional misconduct in that:

  • having nominated one service as her preferred employer in accordance with the Australian government principles it was not honest and ethical for her to work at the other service
  • in a conversation with a manager of the second service, she had misrepresented working in the general not the aged care unit of the first service
  • she failed to apply principles of public health related to disease prevention in continuing to work at the second service after 6 August 2020 and more so in attending to work at there on 17 and 18 August 2020 after becoming aware of the COVID-19 outbreak at the first service on 15 August 2020, when she had worked there between 11 to 14 August 2020. 

The tribunal agreed a reprimand was necessary and appropriate for general deterrence and to be sure that health practitioners will comply with public health requirements. The nurse ought to have complied with the clear directives from public health officials and her managers given the serious, unprecedented nature of the pandemic and its ongoing management.

As she had been suspended for just over two years from October 2020 to November 2022 and unable to practice, when the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the NMBA took immediate action) a reprimand, not a further suspension, was sought and granted. 

The nurse showed remorse and insight.

The tribunal’s decision was made on 4 May 2023. Read the full decision on AustLII.

Page reviewed 3/08/2023