AN experienced nurse has been suspended from her post after being charged with sexual offences against a child.
Rhona Sharman, 50, who worked as a staff nurse for NHS Lothian in West Lothian, has been suspended for 18 months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) while she faces the criminal charges.
The nurse, who lives in Livingston, has been charged with taking indecent photographs of a child, causing an older child to be present while engaging in sexual activity, communicating indecently with an older child and causing an older child to participate in sexual activity.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between August and October last year and, according to the NMC, relate to a child over the age of 13, but younger than 16.
Also charged is Douglas Sharman, 46, also from Livingston, who faces court over two charges of intercourse with an older child, causing an older child to participate in sexual activity, causing an older child to be present while engaging in sexual activity, communicating indecently with an older child and taking indecent photographs of a child.
Ms Sharman was interviewed and charged by Strathclyde Police on October 28 and then contacted the Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to notify them.
She has not carried out any clinical duties since she was bailed by police, and the NMC investigating committee suspended her from her duties in mid-February. NMC panel members heard that Ms Sharman had worked at the same location for 26 years, working her way up from a domestic assistant to become a staff nurse.
The panel told her it was in the public interest to suspend her until the NMC had completed its investigation into the allegations, which is unlikely to happen until any charges are dealt with.
In a judgement sent to the nurse, the panel wrote: “This is one of those rare cases where public interest alone necessitates an interim suspension order as an appropriate response. The panel is of the view that the allegations, if proven, suggest that you demonstrated poor judgement. Your position as a registered nurse requires you to maintain certain standards including that you must always act lawfully, whether those laws relate to your professional practice or personal life, and that you must uphold the reputation of your profession.
“The panel considered that the reputation of the profession would be damaged if an order were not in place. The panel consider that these allegations are very serious and the alleged behaviour would fall well below the public’s expectation of the behaviour of a registered nurse.”
They noted that the alleged incidents had taken place outside work.
Ms Sharman’s lawyer, Chris Dickson, said Ms Sharman denied the allegations made against her, but that she was unable to make a statement before the panel for fear of prejudicing any criminal case.
Alan Boyter, director of human resources and organisational development for NHS Lothian, said: “This case may still be subject to criminal proceedings and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.”
No pleas have yet been entered for any of the charges but Mr Dickson said his client denied any wrongdoing.