A NURSE from Oxford who swore at a patient after the man attacked him during a row about medicine has been let off with a caution.

Andrew Buckland, 46, called the mentally ill man a “f*****g faggot” and shoved his finger in the man’s face after the pair clashed.

The patient, who cannot be named, had become aggressive and hit Buckland in the face, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Buckland was left with a gash under his left eye and had to be pulled away from the man until he calmed down.

He complained to deputy ward manager Teresa Greenhalgh that staff “should not have to take being attacked by patients”.

Buckland was later sent home from his shift on the Phoenix Ward at the Littlemore Mental Health Centre on June 10, 2007.

The nurse admitted verbally abusing the man, known only as patient A, and using threatening behaviour.

The NMC heard patient A was a middle-aged man who had been on the ward for over two years.

Ms Greenhalgh said: “The patient started to get very aggressive and kept setting the fire alarms off.

“We finally got everything under control, then about five minutes later he set it off again.

“I was fixing the alarm panel for the second time when I heard an alarm going off indicating a member of staff had been attacked.”

Ms Greenhalgh ran to help.

When she got there she realised the pair were outside in the garden and Buckland was standing over patient A shouting and pointing his finger at him.

She said: “Patient A was sat on the wall and Andrew was stood over him. He was pointing at him. I didn’t hear everything he was saying but I did pick up, ‘you f***ing faggot’, which he said more than once.”

She told the panel she grabbed Buckland’s arm to get him away.

She said: “Andrew looked quite shocked. The cut under his eye was quite severe and there was a lot of swelling.”

Buckland told the hearing he was “heartbroken” after losing his job following the incident.

He said he had not been able to work since and that his only hope in the future was to be allowed to return to nursing.

Giving him a one year caution order, NMC chairman Pamela Ormerod told him that would be possible.

She said: “This has been a learning experience, and we are confident a caution order is the appropriate sanction in this case to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession.”

Buckland will have to complete a return to practice course before he can work as a nurse again.