Rockhampton Hospital parking
Rockhampton Hospital parking File

Jail term conviction leads to two-year ban for nurse

A FORMER Rockhampton Hospital nurse has had her registration cancelled after engaging in professional misconduct behaviour.

A decision handed down by the Health Ombudsman last month outlined reasons for stripping Maree Josephine Armstrong of her registration as of January 14, 2019, and banning her from applying for registration for two years.

Armstrong was working in the coronary care unit at Rockhampton Hospital when she failed to claim her income working as a registered nurse while she claimed parenting payments through Centrelink between August 2007 to November 2010.

She was convicted in August 2013 after she dishonestly gained $22,560.70.

This conviction breached a good behaviour bond imposed for the same type of offending in October 2007 where she had received $9674.42 overpayments between April 2004 and October 2005.

Armstrong had also been overpaid $1926 between 1996 and 2005, which she repaid.

While she notified the Queensland Nursing Council of her conviction from October 2007, she failed to notify the Nursing and Midwifery Board of the August 2013 conviction.

Armstrong had been sentenced to six months prison, released after serving 10 weeks and placed on a good behaviour bond for two years with a recognisance of $1000.

On top of failing to report the court conviction, Armstrong provided a fraudulent medical certificate to the tribunal after claiming her daughter was ill and she had an ultrasound booked the day of a hearing with the Office of the Health Ombudsman on October 28, 2016.

Evidence before the tribunal included an affidavit from the doctor she forged the signature of on the medical certificate.

The affidavit confirmed neither Armstrong or her daughter were seen by the doctor on that day.

The decision outlines the processes undertaken by relevant authorities to have Armstrong respond to the allegations.

"The main argument which can be distilled from the various submissions filed by Ms Armstrong is that the tribunal and Office of Health Ombudsman are not valid entities under the Australian Constitution and are therefore not capable of bringing or determining disciplinary proceedings against her.

"There is little merit attempting to address each argument made by Ms Armstrong, which demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the Commonwealth and State Constitutions, and can only be described as misguided and ill-informed."

The decision also pointed out that during proceedings: "Ms Armstrong continued to show an unwillingness to accept responsibility for her conduct which suggests an underlying character flaw which she has not recognised and certainly not sought to deal with. The tribunal is not satisfied that she is not at risk of reoffending.

""The registration of Ms Armstrong at any future time will be a matter for the Board."