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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C

Hospital sacks healthcare assistant for stealing €50 note from unresponsive patient

The man denied it before offering to hand over €50.

A HOSPITAL SACKED a heartless healthcare assistant after he stole €50 from an envelope belonging to an elderly unresponsive patient.

The un-named health-care assistant claimed unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has now thrown out the claim.

WRC Officer in the case, Emile Daly found that dismissal was not disproportionate in the case.

Daly stated that theft is an act that breaks the fundamental relationship of trust between an employer and employee and in the circumstances where a person stole from a patient in an unresponsive state, it increases the gravity of the case further.

The patient was admitted to the hospital on 19 December 2015 having had a fall.

Medical notes show that in the period since the patient’s admission his health had deteriorated over seven days and was unresponsive by 28 December.

The patient arrived at the hospital with €438 in a brown envelope.

On 28 December, the healthcare assistant and a nurse were in the process of washing the patient.

The nurse stated that she left the patient’s bedside for a few minutes to retrieve cream for the patient.

On her return to the curtained area around the patient’s bedside, the nurse saw the healthcare assistant leaning over the patient’s bag and taking from a brown envelope a €50 note, which he then placed in his trouser pocket.

The healthcare assistant then put the brown envelope back into the patient’s bag.

At this point the staff nurse made a coughing sound to alert the healthcare assistant to her presence.

The health care assistant immediately said that the patient had asked for a shave, which the staff nurse did not believe, given the unresponsive condition that the patient was in.

They continued with the task and the staff nurse told the WRC that she was shocked with what she had just witnessed.

The nurse reported the matter to her senior, the Clinical Nurse Manager. The nurse and her colleague returned to the patient to retrieve the envelope and gave it to hospital security.

The allegations were put to the health care assistant and he became immediately upset and denied it.

He then offered to put €50 in the man’s bag if it would end here. He was suspended pending an investigation and he became very upset and said. The healthcare assistant stated: “Oh my God, I’m going to lose my job.”

The healthcare assistant – who had worked at the hospital for 15 years – was sacked for gross misconduct.

The patient emerged from his unresponsive state and was able to speak with hospital staff on 29 December.

Read: Mullingar hospital apologises to new mother after a ‘series of errors’ >

Read: Elderly Connemara man had to wait 57 minutes on roadside for an ambulance >

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