Former Good Hope Hospital worker who inhaled laughing gas while on duty struck off

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An NHS worker who inhaled laughing gas while on duty has been struck off. A tribunal panel ruled her fitness to practise was ‘impaired’ after ‘abusing the trust placed in her.’

Ruramayi Runzirwayi was an operating department practitioner in an operating theatre team. She was seen three times by staff near to anaesthetic machines with nitrous oxide flowmeter turned to a high level.

She was employed via an agency at Good Hope Hospital, in Sutton Coldfield, and was spotted holding the end of the Bain circuit, which is tubing carrying anaesthetic gasses to a patient, by her face. This was the first occasion of wrongdoing in August 2018, the Health and Care Professional Tribunal Service (HCPTS) hearing was told.

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Ms Runzirwayi claimed there was a “fault with the anti-hypoxic link of the machine.” But a member of staff returned to find that she had the tube “inside her mouth.” She did not return after the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust informed the agency they did not want her back.

She later began working at Oxford University Hospitals Trust in January 2019 and carried out duties at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford. Staff saw her “holding the circuit to, or close to, her face” twice in February 2019. HCPTS said there was an “inescapable inference” that showed Ms Runzirwayi was inhaling nitrous oxide on each occasion.

The panel was told Ms Runzirwayi had been “experiencing challenging personal circumstances” at the time of each case. It also said that she had made no “formal admissions of the facts.”

The panel said she had “acted inappropriately” and was guilty of “a breach of trust and an abuse of her professional position.” The panel struck her off and concluded: “By reason of your misconduct and/or health your fitness to practise is impaired.”

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