29/09/2011 12:37 BST | Updated 29/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Valerie Whitmore, Cervical Cancer Nurse 'Who Failed To Find A Cervix'

A nurse tasked with testing women for signs of cervical cancer has appeared before a medical council to face accusations that she was "unable to locate the cervix".

Valerie Whitmore allegedly appeared "hesitant and anxious" while she carried out smear tests on patients. The clinic nurse at the Sunlight Centre Surgery in Gillingham, Kent, was stopped by her supervisor during one of the tests as her patient was in so much pain.

The allegations, which were made in 2007, also included a failure to follow correct hygiene procedures, explain the test properly to patients, and neglecting to protect her female patients' privacy.

Despite having undertaken smear training in 2006, concerns were raised about her skills in cervical cytology and Whitmore was accused of failing to demonstrate the "standards of knowledge, skill and judgement" to practise without supervision.

She also stands accused of conducting cervical smear tests under supervision in which her supervisor had to intervene after she made several unsuccessful attempts to take a sample.

During one procedure, Whitmore sought confirmation from her supervisor about whether she had located her patient's cervix, to which her superior replied "no".

The 65-year-old is also alleged to have presented a cross infection risk when she examined a patient after touching a light without adequate protection, and did not dispose of a patient's sample or remove her gloves after an examination.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council heard Whitmore's case in London earlier this week but have yet to reach a verdict.