Nurse asked patient out on date to McDonald’s in ‘sexually motivated’ actions which got him sacked

PUBLISHED: 15:52 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 09 April 2019

James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: Nick Butcher

James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A nurse at a Norfolk hospital was sacked after asking a patient how many siblings she had, which was the “sexiest”, and whether she would go on a date with him to McDonald’s.

It happened at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston, between November 27 and 29, 2017.

The patient was being cared for on the hospital’s private Charnwood Suite when nurse Eugene Zuniga made the remarks.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing found Mr Zuniga told the patient: “I don’t know why your partner would not want to be with you as you are so pretty.”

He also asked to see a photo of the patient’s sisters and asked: “How many siblings do you have? Who is the sexiest of the three?”

He asked to take the patient to McDonald’s and for her telephone number. He later accessed her patient records to get the number.

On December 2, after the patient had been discharged, Mr Zuniga called her and said: “Do you still want to meet? We could go to McDonalds.”

He also called her on December 5 asking: “What food can I bring you?”

The NMC hearing heard Mr Zuniga’s actions were “sexually motivated” and amounted to misconduct.

During the hearing, the patient was questioned via video link, as Ben Edwards, representing the NMC, said she did not wish to be in the same room as Mr Zuniga.

The hearing heard how Mr Zuniga had worked for the trust since June 26, 2001.

The patient’s father complained to JPUH in December 2017 before an internal disciplinary hearing on February 6, 2018. Mr Zuniga was then dismissed and referred to the NMC.

During the NMC hearing the panel found Mr Zuniga’s evidence “unreliable” and said his account of the incidents was unreasonable and implausible.

He had said the patient had “misremembered” and that he was required to ask personal questions which may have been misinterpreted.

But the panel did not accept this and found “there is no context that would make the specific comments appropriate”. Mr Zuniga also said the patient had asked him to go and fetch her a McDonald’s meal after she missed the ward dinner.

But the panel said this was unlikely, and suspended Mr Zuniga for 18 months.

The hospital’s director of nursing Julia Hunt said: “Patient safety is our priority and we take any complaint concerning inappropriate behaviour by our staff extremely seriously.

“In this particular case, the trust took action as soon as the complaint was received, conducting a full investigation which resulted in a disciplinary hearing.

“As a result of the hearing, the nurse concerned was dismissed by the trust and the matter referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, in line with our policies.”

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