A NURSE who started a sexual relationship with a vulnerable former mental patient has been struck off by a health watchdog.

Julie Cank, 43, who worked at Calderstones Hospital in Whalley when she began the affair with a man 15 years her junior, was told her behaviour was ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with her name remaining on the nursing register.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s fitness to practise panel heard that Cank, from Burnley, had began the liaision with ‘Patient A’ when he moved out of the Whalley hospital and into supported lodgings.

Care co-ordinators at the home raised the alarm when Cank began turning up to see the 23-year-old, who has a personality disorder.

The pair had been drinking together and began a sexual relationship shortly afterwards, the NMC panel was told.

Announcing the decision to strike her off, panel chairman Linda Parkin said: “The aggravated nature of Ms Cank’s sexually inappropriate behaviour with a former vulnerable patient is, on the face of it, fundamentally incompatible with her continued registration.

“The panel has concluded that the misconduct in this case does amount to a serious departure from the relevant professional standards. She breached the clear sexual boundary that must exist between a nurse and a patient.”

Initially Cank claimed she was unaware of guidelines covering safeguarding vulnerable adults but nursing bosses said that as a band six nurse she should have known her responsibilities.

Cank, who was sacked by Calderstones in the wake of the incident being reported, has 28 days to appeal against her punishment.

She admitted a series of allegations concerning the relationship and the panel ruled she was guilty of serious professional misconduct.