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Thieving nurse 'could have left patients with no painkillers'

By Staff Reporter

Published 07/07/2016

A nurse was caught taking painkillers on a specially installed CCTV camera after bosses noticed a decline in stock levels
A nurse was caught taking painkillers on a specially installed CCTV camera after bosses noticed a decline in stock levels

A nurse was caught taking painkillers on a specially installed CCTV camera after bosses noticed a decline in stock levels.

Olwyn Wilson stole 50mg tablets from the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald twice on January 10 last year and again on January 28.

She told staff they were for pain relief on days she was working and that she did not want to renew her old prescription with her GP because he might consider her unfit to work.

But one occasion she took the entire stock available, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard.

The missing medication was first detected on October 30, 2014, when the hospital pharmacist noticed that a box of 84 Pregabalin tablets, ordered on September 19, had only 42 remaining.

When the pharmacist and ward manager checked patient records, they found only two tablets had been administered to patients in that time, leaving 40 unaccounted for.

From that point, staff carried out "regular covert checks of the medication". After a further 21 tablets were discovered missing on November 26, a log was set up to record stock levels. Another 21 tablets were found to have gone on December 15, at which point an application was made to the chief executive of the hospital to install a covert CCTV camera.

On December 27, another 21 tablets were discovered missing, after which the hidden camera was installed on January 8, 2015.

When a further 21 tablets were discovered missing on January 12, the ward manager and pharmacist watched the CCTV together and "both concluded that it gave a clear, unobstructed view of Mrs Wilson taking what they were able to identify as Pregabalin on two occasions on 10 January 2015".

Wilson was informed of the evidence in a meeting with a clinical manager and clinical coordinator on February 3 and admitted taking the medication for personal use.

At a further meeting, Wilson also "admitted taking some Pregabalin on earlier occasions but denied she had taken all the missing medication".

The nurse resigned on May 11, 2015, and stated in a letter to the NMC that she had no desire to return to nursing.

Panel chair Cindy Barnett said: "We concluded that Mrs Wilson's actions put her patients at risk.

"She stole medication intended for patients, and it appears that on one occasion she may have taken the full stock of Pregabalin, so that there would have been none available if a patient required it.

"Further, she admitted that on occasions she worked while under the influence of Pregabalin, without having clearance from her GP.

"We noted that Mrs Wilson has long-term health issues that led her to steal the medication in the first place. Given that these issues remain, we concluded that there was a risk of repetition if Mrs Wilson were to find herself in a similar situation.

"We concluded that Mrs Wilson is genuinely remorseful. However, she does not mention the potential for patient harm, nor the effect her behaviour has had on the reputation of the profession or the reputation of the NMC, either in the investigatory meetings or in her letter."

"We are of the view that Mrs Wilson's actions demonstrated a fundamental departure from the relevant standards, and that public confidence in the nursing profession and in the NMC as its regulator would be undermined were we not to impose a striking-off order."

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