A nurse has been reprimanded and suspended after embarking on a sexual relationship with a psychiatric patient from the hospital he worked at and taking her prescription medication.
Leslie James Hill-Murray, 52, a former nurse at the Austin Hospital, was working night shift in the acute psychiatric unit in June 2010 when he met the patient, a 40-year-old woman.
The pair spoke about his living arrangements and within three weeks, he had moved into her home and they were in a sexual relationship.
In September, after a fight fuelled by his drinking and consumption of prescription drugs – including the woman’s opiates – police took out an intervention order against Mr Hill-Murray on the woman’s behalf.
Police later decided not to lay any charges against Mr Hill-Murray, who had been verbally and physically abusive towards the woman, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.
The nurse also told police that the abuse had been ongoing during the brief relationship. Police notified the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, who decided to take action.
Days after the fight between the woman and Mr Hill-Murray, he was admitted as a voluntary patient at The Alfred hospital, where he confessed to the illicit relationship with his former patient and his use of prescription opiates to nurses.
Nurses also notified authorities and the board suspended Mr Hill-Murray in September 2010.
In their recently published finding, VCAT members Mary Archibald and Marietta Bylhouwer affirmed the board’s suspension and banned Mr Hill from applying for his registration again for 12 months, effective from August 30.
“We are firmly of the view that the conduct of having sexual relationships with a former patient and physical and verbal abuse of a former patient does fall short – to a substantial degree – of the standard of conduct observed or approved by members of the profession of good repute and competency,” the members said.
“Such conduct is a deliberate departure from the accepted standards as to portray an indifference and an abuse of the privilege which accompany registration as a nurse.”
The members said that if, after 12 months, Mr Hill-Murray was determined to be a fit and proper person, he could regain his registration.
“It is important that the public be protected from this conduct,” the members said. “It should in no way be looked at as if it is trivial or anything of that nature. It is conduct of a very serious matter. At this particular time, we cannot be satisfied that there is not likely to be a repetition of this conduct.”
The members also emphasised that other members of the nursing profession must be sent a strong message that Mr Hill-Murray’s behaviour was unacceptable.