Nurse suspended after claiming over $200,000 in MSD benefits


A nurse has pleaded guilty to 20 charges under the Crimes Act for claiming more than $200,000 in benefits over a 20-year period.

In a decision issued last week involving a hearing in March last year, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a conviction charge brought by a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) against a registered nurse , whose name and the DHB she worked for has been removed.

According to the decision, the amount the nurse received over a period of several years was $208,945.29. The nurse received a benefit for domestic purposes for almost 20 years and during this period signed various declarations attesting that her situation had not changed and requests for additional benefits.

Following correspondence with the Inland Revenue, it was found that the practitioner had worked for Healthcare NZ since September 1, 2007 and NZ Nursing since October 6, 2015 and had not informed MSD of these changes in her circumstances. .

MSD also noted that the practitioner had listed a partner on his business details at Healthcare NZ. Following further investigations, it was determined that the practitioner had been living in a marriage-type relationship since October 2, 2008.

There was also a failure to report income from his employers. The nurse was not entitled to any other benefit rates and/or financial assistance, as her relationship then disqualified her from payments due to their household income.

In Christchurch District Court, the nurse was unsuccessful in her application for release without conviction, but no sentence was handed down. She got the name permanently removed.

“There is no doubt that the 20 convictions for ‘benefits fraud’ resulting in a debt of over $200,000 to the Department of Social Development are convictions that impair this practitioner’s fitness to practice.” The charge therefore stands,” the court document reads.

“The practitioner acknowledged the severity of the sentences and expressed her regret. She noted that she pleaded guilty to the early-stage offenses and cooperated with MSD. She also cooperated with the PCC and engaged constructively in the Tribunal process.

“She reported the convictions to the Board of Nursing herself and took steps to report it to her employer once she received legal advice allowing her to do so.”


The practitioner explained that she had been on stipend since the early 1990s and was motivated to leave stipend and return to the community.

She decided to train as a nurse and graduated as a registered nurse after obtaining a registered nurse diploma in July 2015. She started working as a nursing aide around 2008.

“She earned little and had a casual job. She thought she was allowed to work, but over time the work got longer and she recognized that she should have told the ministry,” the document reads.

The nurse admitted the accusation and agreed that the convictions interfered with her fitness to practice and that disciplinary action should be ordered.

The Tribunal was satisfied that the conduct leading to the convictions was unacceptable and that a sanction was appropriate.

The Court recognized that the offense occurred when the nurse’s family was experiencing significant trauma, that it occurred outside of her practice as a nurse, and that much of the offense s occurred before she became a nurse. The Tribunal noted that her practice as a nurse did not raise any concerns.

The Tribunal ordered the nurse:

  • to be censored
  • Being suspended from practice for 9 months
  • Upon returning to practice, have conditions imposed on his practice for periods ranging from six months to three years
  • Pay 15% ($3,597.11) of the total cost of the hearing.

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Richard V. Johnson