National

Deregistered SA nurse admits 66 charges

By AAP Newswire

An Adelaide woman who continued to practise as a nurse after she was suspended provided her employer with a doctored certificate of registration, a court has heard.

Helena Maryja Heaft, 54, pleaded guilty in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday to 66 counts of claiming to be a registered nurse after she was deregistered in early 2018.

Prosecutor Craig Fabbian told the court the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia had taken the action after Heaft failed to notify them of criminal convictions, including supplying a prescription drug to another person without authority.

"Obviously because of the nature of the work that she undertook, that was of considerable concern to the board," Mr Fabbian said.

But he said Heaft continued to accept shifts as a registered nurse at aged care facilities, after they were offered to her by an agency.

Between February and June of 2018, she earned more than $29,000 from 65 shifts at care facilities at Glengowrie, Evanston Park and Angle Park.

Her true status was brought to the attention of authorities when her employer went to update her registration details and found she was suspended.

When contact was made with Heaft, she initially blamed an administrative mistake but later forwarded a doctored certificate of registration.

"Eventually it appears that Ms Heaft has determined that the matter has gone too far, and wrote to her employer and acknowledged that she was suspended," Mr Fabbian said.

He said Heaft told her employer she would not be undertaking any further work and asked not be reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Mr Fabbian said it was later discovered the receipt number on the certificate provided by Heaft was the same as that of one of her colleagues, who held a copy of her certificate in their office.

"Clearly it's most concerning that ultimately a falsified certificate was provided by Ms Heaft to her employer which appears to be doctored or altered in some way," he said.

Defence counsel Michelle Barnes told the court Heaft was "very remorseful" and accepted the allegations, which took place after her husband had been made redundant and the family was struggling to make mortgage repayments.

The court heard there was never any questions over Heaft's patient care, and she had been practising for almost 30 years when she was suspended.

"This is not a case where the community were really in any risk from this woman," Ms Barnes said.

Magistrate Mark Semmens will sentence Heaft in December.

At the time of her offending, the maximum penalty for each count was a $30,000 fine but no term of imprisonment.