A KNIGHTED nurse has issued a grovelling apology for his inappropriate affair with an 83-year-old widow he dubbed “my little Tinkerbell”.
Sir George Castledine, 66, a visiting professor at Glyndwr University, Wrexham, broke the nursing code of conduct he helped to draft by declaring his love for the recently-bereaved woman during regular visits to her home.
He showered the pensioner with gifts and flowers, took her away on a trip to Wales, and once said he would need to go to the gym or they “wouldn't be able to make love”.
Sir George, who was knighted for his services to the healthcare profession in 2007, has admitted inappropriate contact with the octogenarian at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing in London, but denies claims he manipulated her and took her money.
Giving evidence for the first time yesterday since the inquiry began in March, the nurse began by offering an apology.
“I would like to apologise for the fact that my actions have led us to be here today, also in particular to the patient and her family,” he said.
“Throughout my career I have always endeavoured to put the patient first.
“There are aspects of this case that have greatly upset me and this has been a salutary experience.
“I therefore sincerely reiterate my apology to all concerned.”
The NMC heard the alarm was only raised on Sir George's alleged behaviour after two of the elderly patient’s daughters became suspicious and began to tap their phone calls.
The sisters both concluded Sir George was taking money from their illiterate and vulnerable mother, whose husband had died in November 2008.
Sir George quickly began to turn up unannounced at family events and discussed making love to the octogenarian, it is alleged.
Sir George began his evidence yesterday with tales of his glittering nursing career, including the day he received his knighthood.
“When I went home one night there was an official looking envelope and when I opened it it asked me if I would be willing to accept a knighthood,” he said.
“I literally broke down and wept, my wife said, because I was so shocked because I never ever expected anything like that at all.”
It was also revealed Sir George helped create the code of conduct he is now accused of breaching.
Sir George sat on the Welsh board of the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC), which was the predecessor of the NMC.
He said: 'When I came to England, I was elected from the nurses in England as one of the English representatives on the UKCC. I worked on the code of conduct.
“I sat on many professional conduct committees, chaired many conduct cases and I think – I am sure – I chaired the first ever temporary suspension of a nurse in this country.”
During his work as an international nursing consultant, Sir George saw atrocities committed by Joseph Kony's Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, as well as the deaths of two Palestinian suicide bombers, the panel heard.
He also flew to Iraq and Afghanistan ‘to see what was happening’, he told the tribunal.
Earlier, the panel heard evidence that Sir George wrote a statement on behalf of the patient denying any romance between the pair.
Sir George admits failing to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with the woman, including describing himself her ‘lover’ and her ‘shadow’.
He has admitted working without supervision and failing to keep notes of the pair’s sessions.
The nurse also admits having further contact with the patient despite being told not to by management at South Birmingham Community Health Trust.
But he denies a series of allegations against him, including that his conduct was sexually or financially motivated.
He also denies he gave the patient counseling when he did not have the sufficient experience or qualifications to do so.
Sir George is a former assistant dean for the nursing faculty at Birmingham City University, ex-nursing consu ltant at Dudley Group of Hospitals and was worked in the Middle East and Africa for aid agencies. He was also awarded a medal from the British Geriatric Society in 2010 for his work in relieving the suffering of people in older age.
The Oxford University graduate was knighted for his services to the healthcare profession in 2007 and is a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing.
If found guilty of misconduct he could be struck off the nursing register.