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Manchester Uni lecturer lied about having ovarian cancer, MS and 'inoperable' brain cancer


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University lecturer and registered nurse, Deborah Ward, deceived bosses and colleagues for four years with false claims she was suffering from ‘inoperable’ brain cancer, ovarian cancer, and multiple sclerosis in an attempt to procure extensions for her PhD.

Ms. Ward, who was previously employed by the University of Manchester as a lecturer in Infection Prevention and Control in the School of Nursing, was judged at a hearing before a disciplinary panel of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on the 26th of March. 

The panel heard how Ms Ward lied repeatedly to bosses and colleagues about her health.

She was found to have forged false medical documents and schemed to create a website for a fake GP practice to support the claims.

The NMC concluded that Ms. Ward’s behaviour was an "elaborate and complex deception" and she had "failed to act as a role model to student nurses", ultimately ruling that she should be struck off the nursing register after an 18 month interim suspension. 

The panel stated: "This was not dishonesty undertaken on the spur of the moment...It was a course of conduct which she maintained over a long period and required elaborate preparation."

In October 2013, Ms Ward applied for an extension to her PhD, citing side effects of radiotherapy due to a brain tumour.

In March 2014, Ms. Ward emailed again, claiming to have developed ovarian cancer for which she would require surgery and chemotherapy treatment.

In both instances, Ms. Ward supplied fake GP letters supporting her health claims and applications for extensions and in May 2015, further false information was supplied to bosses that the brain tumour had been deemed ‘inoperable’ and she planned to join a clinical trial in Leeds.

Later in 2015, Ms Ward announced an additional diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

It was only after Ms. Ward was directly challenged by an occupational health therapist, who she had been reffered to by her line manager, that she addmitted these health claims were fabricated. 

The occupational health therapist reportedly became concerned about the length and style of the documents requested from the GP, believing they were "not genuine".

When confronted by the occupational therapist about the ingenuine medical documents, Ms. Ward is said to have become "very upset". A letter of resignation was submitted to the University the next day and Ms Ward admitted in further appointments she had given details for a fictitious GP and forged false medical documents.

Ms. Ward has since apologised to the NMC, in a statement she said: "I understand clearly that as a registered nurse I am responsible and accountable for my own actions and that there is nobody else at fault in this case."

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