TWO 'bullying' nurses at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital ordered staff to fake casualty records to meet waiting time targets, a hearing was told.
Sharon Turner and Tracy White falsely logged that patients were discharged earlier than they really were because of targets for them to be seen within four hours, it was said.
Any staff who tried to disobey the senior nurses' orders were told that unless they lied the hospital would be fined and they would get the sack, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard yesterday.
Employees are said to have sworn in front of patients, with Turner allegedly racially abusing a junior Asian doctor by calling him 'Osama's mate' and asking if he had a bomb in his rucksack.
Black patients were also sometimes allegedly made to wait longer than those of other ethnicities, the hearing heard.
Whistleblower Helene Donnelly claimed she was 'ostracised and had to endure constant bitchy comments' when she tried to insist on putting down the true times.
She said: “The demands by Sister White and Sister Turner would appear frequently, during almost every shift. Sister Turner and Sister White would often demand I or my colleagues change the discharge times to avoid a breach. They would frequently lie about discharge times, and pressurise members of staff to lie.
“They would speak nastily and swear at people who did not change the times, or would change the times themselves - change the discharge times behind my back.
“I believe everyone in A&E must have been aware of what was going on - even junior doctors. It is my opinion senior managers must have known staff were altering discharge times. There were gaps in the paperwork.
“To me, falsifying patient records seemed insane. I was told, in no uncertain terms, if we did not meet targets heads would roll. I was concerned about the terrible consequences our actions would have on patient care.”
She claimed senior nurses ‘would use scaremongering tactics to make us comply' with their orders to fake records.
“They would tell us if we had a patient in breach we could lose our jobs.”
The panel heard some patients were inappropriately sent to other departments without being properly assessed or even if A&E staff knew there were no available beds.
Mrs Donnelly said sometimes staff were in such a rush to get patients out of casualty within four hours that staff 'left patients to lie in soiled sheets to meet the targets’.
Recounting one occasion where she was scathingly told off by another manager for faking a discharge time, she said she looked at the paperwork and recognised White's handwriting. But the senior nurse did not admit the forgery, the panel heard.
“I realised Sister White would have been happy for me, a junior nurse, to take the blame for her actions,” said Mrs Donnelly. “As a result of this, absolutely nothing happened to Sister White in terms of disciplinary action.”
Both Turner and White were eventually subjected to an internal disciplinary inquiry in 2008, but were later reinstated with no action taken against them.
During their suspension Mrs Donnelly said she 'incurred the wrath' of their friends in A&E.
Mrs Donnelly said of their return: “Nothing had been learned other than how to break the rules more subversively. Sister White would deliberately make patients wait. Black patients were being made to wait.”
The nurse, who resigned in June 2008, said: “The attitude of the sisters had not changed. I knew I had to get out.”
The accusations against White relate to a period between March 2006 and July 2010, while Turner's charges cover two years between July 2007 October 2009.
Both nurses are being jointly represented by a Royal College of Nursing barrister.
Turner admits a charge of calling a colleague 'stupid', and another of saying “I don't give a flying f***” when talking about patients.
She and White deny all the remaining charges against them.
The ongoing central London hearing is expected to last 10 days.