Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital nurse dismissed after accessing patient records & promoting supplements

Genelda Geonzon worked as a nurse at Birmingham Queen ElizabethHospital outpatients department
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A nurse at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston has been struck off for accessing patients' records, then contacting them to sell unapproved herbal supplements outside her NHS role. 

Genelda Geonzon pursued patients over “days and weeks” and sent a vast number of marketing images by text, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard. One single message contained over 100 images. 

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When confronted, she said there was a staff sideline culture of selling cosmetics and jewellery at the QE, although not to patients being treated.  University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the trust, has confirmed that Geonzon has been dismissed and that the trust acted swiftly to investigate the issues.

At a hearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s fitness to practise committee, Geonzon was given a striking off order and interim suspension order for 18 months.  Mr Arthur Lo, representing Geonzon, said the nurse was driven by a desire to help, not exploit, patients, the product was not dangerous and she had not claimed it was a cure. But Mr Lo “accepted that (Geonzon) was insufficiently cautious as to claims about the efficacy of the products.” 

There was no evidence anyone had been harmed. It was, Mr Lo submitted, an error of judgement rather than a deliberate flouting of professional standards.  But the hearing deemed Geonzon’s actions constituted an abuse of position and put patients at potential risk. 

She promoted the product while working at the QE’s outpatients unit from September, 2021 to the following March. Her duties included assisting with biopsies, removing drains, and looking after acutely ill patients. 

Birmingham Queen Elizabeth HospitalBirmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital
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An investigation by the hospital trust found that, of 17 patients contacted, Geonzon had accessed the records of at least seven to gain their contact details. In one instance, Geonzon was seen using her phone in the clinic to make a Facebook friend of one patient – solely to promote the supplement. 

A report of the hearing outcome states: “The panel considered this to be exploitation of a patient suffering a number of very serious illnesses which members of the public would find shocking. Your conduct was entirely self-serving, and the patient must have been influenced by the fact that you, a professional nurse, treating her in a hospital medical setting, added a veneer of legitimacy to the benefits of your product, when scientifically, there were none.” 

The report also states: “The lack of integrity is the more serious because you bombarded patients with messages and marketing material with no regard to the treatment they were undergoing.  

“There was no credible evidence to support your assertions. You made no reference to the importance of continuing their medical treatment and did this without the knowledge of the treating clinician. Had you been genuinely trying to help patients you would not have searched for their contact details and messaged them in breach of professional obligations.” 

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Geonzon admitted what she had done from the outset and apologised for her actions. One patient contacted by the nurse feared his medical records had been hacked – and Geonzon admitted she had not gained the consent of all patients before contacting them. 

The report states: “The panel noted the number of messages that you sent to individual patients, the length of time over which you sent messages and how you appeared to pursue them over days and weeks when you did not receive any response.  

“You sent a huge number of marketing images to patients (well over 60 were attached to most text messages and on one occasion there were over 100 images sent in a single message).” 

It added: “You failed to adhere to the moral and ethical standards of the profession. You tried to take advantage of very vulnerable patients by breaching your obligations to respect patient confidentiality in order to try to sell them an unlicensed non-prescribed product for your own financial gain.” The panel found Geonzon’s fitness to practise currently impaired. 

What has Queen Elizabeth Hospital said about Genelda Geonzon's conduct?

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A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: “Patient confidentiality and patient trust in healthcare professionals is paramount, therefore the Trust acted swiftly to investigate and act on the concerns raised by a clinician. Following the nurse’s dismissal, the Trust engaged and fully supported the Nursing and Midwifery Council in their further regulatory action.” 

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