Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Registered nurse who stole PPE during a national shortage disqualified from applying for registration for a year
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Registered nurse who stole PPE during a national shortage disqualified from applying for registration for a year

16 Feb 2024

A tribunal has reprimanded and disqualified a registered nurse from applying for registration for 12 months after she used her position as an educator and supervisor to steal personal protective equipment (PPE) during a national shortage and global pandemic. 

Ms Selvarani Burwood was employed by a tertiary institution on a casual basis in the role of Clinical Nurse Facilitator. Within this role she supervised nursing students at a hospital, assisting with the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes required in clinical settings.  

Between 3 to 6 March 2020, Ms Burwood pressured students under her supervision to aid in the theft of the hospital’s PPE so she could be prepared for an upcoming family holiday. She did this via direct requests of her students to take masks from the ward for her, and requiring them to block the view of other staff members while she removed PPE from an equipment trolley and put them in her handbag. She also accessed the hospital’s storage room and placed the PPE into the students’ uniform pockets, requesting that they were put into her handbag. 

The students noted feeling uncomfortable and stressed, knowing what they were doing was wrong however, they were concerned that Ms Burwood had the power to influence their hospital placement grades. 

On 10 March 2020, Ms Burwood’s employer was notified of the alleged theft and immediately suspended her. She was later arrested and charged with one count of stealing which she failed to notify the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) of. On 22 June 2020, Ms Burwood pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing contrary to s 378 of the Criminal Code.

The NMBA received a notification from her employer regarding the charges and after investigation referred Ms Burwood to the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia (the tribunal). 

The tribunal found that Ms Burwood had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct in relation to stealing and directing student nurses to steal PPE and unprofessional conduct when failing to notify the NMBA regarding her criminal charges. The tribunal ordered that she: 

  • be reprimanded,
  • have her registration cancelled
  • is disqualified from applying for registration for a period of 12 months, and
  • pay a contribution towards the NMBA’s costs of the proceedings.

The tribunal’s decision was made on 1 December 2023 and is available on the eCourts Portal of Western Australia.

Page reviewed 16/02/2024