A MENTAL health nurse who had phone calls containing sexual innuendo with a convicted murderer and former patient has been given a caution order for five years.

Last night a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) conduct panel found that nurse David Abbey Kwei's fitness to practise had been impaired as a result of the calls, which took place in 2012 with a former patient of Llanarth Court Hospital where Mr Kwei worked.

This morning the panel sanctioned him to a five-year caution order, which will be written alongside his name on the NMC register.

Any employer or prospective employer during those five years will be on notice that his fitness to practice has been impaired and that he is under a caution order, the hearing was told.

The two other options - no action, or a conditions of practice order - were not appropriate, said chairman Peter Jones.

Yesterday the tribunal heard that the unnamed woman, who made the calls from HMP Eastwood Park where she awaited sentence for murdering her seven-year-old son, told Mr Kwei over the phone that she loved him.

Mr Kwei, who worked in various nursing roles at the Raglan hospital between July 2001 and January 2013, admitted "inappropriate ongoing contact" with the woman, known as Patient A.

Monwara Shah, for the NMC, said Mr Kwei had been charge nurse on a 16-bed secure ward for women suffering from mental illness and personality disorder, where Patient A was sent in September 2010 under the Mental Health Act.

She was moved to HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire in 2012 and later sentenced to 17 years in jail for murder.

While in prison it was said she made 27 phone calls to Mr Kwei's direct line, including three calls between December 28 and 31, 2012, which were the subject of this hearing and contained "sexual innuendo", the tribunal heard.

Excerpts from transcripts of the calls show Mr Kwei asking patient A if her calls were being monitored or recorded.

He was later dismissed from the organisation.

The NMC received a complaint about Mr Kwei from Llanarth Court on April 12, 2013.

Mr Kwei said that at the time he thought of the calls as follow-up care, but later realised it was not professional behaviour.

After he was dismissed from Llanarth Court he had time to reflect on his actions, he said, and spent his own money attending professional development courses in Chester and online, and currently has a job at Rushcliffe Independent Hospital, near Port Talbot, as well as a post with Gofal Cymru.

Mitigating factors in the panel's decision included the fact he didn't initiate the calls, his insight and remorse, admission of misconduct, "excellent" references from current employers, and the professional development courses Mr Kwei has been on.

However they said aggravating factors were the former patient's vulnerability and damage to the profession.

"Your behaviour was unacceptable and must not happen again," said Mr Jones. "But we must bear in mind the detriment to the public of removing a competent nurse [from the register].

"This sends the public and the profession a message of the standards required."

Mr Kwei has the right to appeal the panel's decision.