A NURSE who began a sexual relationship with a suicidal teenager just days after she was discharged from hospital has been struck off.

Thomas Simms exchanged sexually-charged Facebook messages with the 17-year-old after caring for her at the McGill acute admittance ward at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Simms invited the girl, referred to as Patient A, ice skating and to the cinema before he began taking her to his home.

On the fourth occasion she visited his home they had sex, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard.

The former patient finally contacted Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust several months after the relationship ended.

The NMC disciplinary panel found he engaged in an inappropriate and sexual relationship with Patient A, and had sex with her without her consent between March and April 2012.

NMC panel chairman Robin Somerville said: “The panel is in doubt that Mr Simms breached the hospital's code of conduct and that his actions were morally questionable.

“The panel reminded itself of its duty to protect the public and the public interest.

“Mr Simms put Patient A at unwarranted risk and harm. He was an experienced practice nurse and might have known of Patient A's condition and vulnerability.

“He manipulated her vulnerability and persisted in contacting her in a way that might have been pre-meditated.

“This has undoubtedly brought the profession into disrepute.

“The very nature of a nurse's job places them in a position of privilege and responsibility and are expected to uphold their integrity in all situations.

“The need for all nurses to maintain clear boundaries between themselves and patients is clear.

“There was manipulation and abuse involved in Mr Simms' relationship with Patient A.

“Although he admits being naturally cheeky and flirty this is not appropriate in such a position.”

Simms was sacked from his job after an investigation, the hearing was told.

Police also launched an inquiry but no charges were ever brought.