Dying cancer patient left naked and shivering in Royal Free Hospital ward

A nurse who left a dying cancer patient standing naked and shivering in front of other patients has been struck off.

Wai Cheng, who worked as a bank nurse at the Royal Free Hospital in Pond Lane, Hampstead, was meant to be caring for the 79-year-old patient, who had just had her bowel removed due to bowel cancer, on August 7, 2009.

When the elderly woman asked for a colostomy bag change, the nurse shouted at her, saying she would only help if the pensioner stood up, a disciplinary panel heard.

The elderly woman, named only as Patient A, was left gripping onto her hospital bed covered in faeces with the curtain to her bay open.

The woman, who has since died, and another patient on the ward wrote letters of complaints saying she was left in a humiliating state.

Ms Cheng left the ward that evening without properly recording what had happened during her shift.

A panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on Thursday (September 13) said Ms Cheng’s actions amounted to misconduct and that her fitness to practise was impaired.

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Striking her off, the NMC panel chairman, Alan Harris, said: “Ms Cheng failed to act in the best interests of Patient A in that she left her naked, shivering, covered in faeces and standing with the curtain to her bay open, in the sight of other patients.”

He added that Cheng’s conduct on August 7, 2009 was “woefully inadequate” and was a serious departure from the standards expected from a registered nurse.

“She failed to respect Patient A’s right to be treated with dignity and to have her modesty protected,” said Mr Harris.

The Royal Free Hospital has apologised to the patient’s family.

A spokeswoman said: “The behaviour was wholly unacceptable and the trust acted as soon as the allegation was reported in 2009.

“Ms Cheng was a bank worker who worked on a temporary basis and she has not worked for the trust since.

“We reported the incident to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and have worked closely with them throughout their investigation.”

Ms Cheng, who did not attend the central London hearing, denied all of the allegations and has 28 days to challenge the decision.

An 18 month interim suspension order was granted to cover the appeal period.