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Bridgend nurses jailed after making up blood sugar readings for patients

Published 14/12/2015

The pair were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court
The pair were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court

Two senior nurses have been jailed after they made up blood sugar readings of vulnerable patients at a hospital in Wales.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Rebecca Jones, 31, and Lauro Bertulano, 46, were too lazy to check the glucose levels of some patients on a stroke ward at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

A court heard that at one point a bedridden 82-year-old went 26 hours before having a genuine test carried out.

Judge Tom Crowther QC said the pair were a disgrace to the nursing profession and brushed aside defence calls to suspend sentence.

Addressing both defendants, he said: "This was not only a failure to do your job, but a failure of compassion and humanity.

"There was no element of frustration in these defendants' actions, no question of tempers having been frayed by a difficult patient.

"This was clear eyes and calculated deception, the purpose of which was to make the defendants' working time easier."

Jones, of Bridgend, was handed an eight month sentence, while Bertulano, also of Bridgend, was given a four month prison term.

The court heard that concerns about Ward 2 were first raised in February 2013 when officials noticed discrepancies between blood glucose levels recorded in patients' notes and readings on a glucose meter taken by Rebecca Jones.

Patients on the ward were deemed to "lack capacity" and should have had their blood sugar routinely tested every two hours because their levels were often wildly unpredictable - and therefore could prove fatal.

However, following an investigation it was found that she (Rebecca Jones) had had made 51 fakes entries in patients' notes while Philippine- born male nurse Bertulano had made 26.

Among the nine victims was the late 82-year-old Lillian Williams, who once went more than an entire day before a proper test was carried out.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Williams' son Gareth said his concerns to the defendants about his elderly mother were frequently brushed off.

He said: "They were often sat the nursing station drinking tea or looking at their mobile phones while patients' calls went unheeded."

Mary Davies, whose 69-year-old and insulin dependant husband Colin went unchecked for six hours, said she felt sickened by what happened.

"It has made me distrustful of hospitals," she added.

The court also heard from the family of 88-year-old patient Ronald Bevan.

Mr Bevan's son Christopher, himself a qualified nurse, said: "They are a disgrace to the professsion and should be struck off.

"They do not deserve to be called nurses ... they have no compassion."

Rebecca Jones pleaded guilty to nine counts of wilful neglect while Bertulano pleaded guilty to six counts of the same charge.

In mitigation, both defendants had claimed stress had been a factor in their actions.

However, Judge Crowther said: "Glucose testing is not an involved or onerous task.

"But the defendants had admitted that rather than make the test, they would simply not instead record false results.

"The motivation for the failure to conduct proper test results was simply a disinclination ... to do the work for which they were being paid."

A third nurse in the case Natalie Jones, also of Bridgend, pleaded guilty to two counts of wilful neglect. She was given an 80-hour community order.

Judge Crowther described the 41-year-old as a "junior nurse" and her offending had taken place after following "the example set by her more senior colleagues".

As each of the sentences were delivered there was rapturous applause from a packed public gallery.

Speaking outside court, victim support group spokesman Mr Williams called for a public inquiry into the goings-on at Ward 2.

"We fear what has come out in court is only the tip of the iceberg," he added.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which runs the Princess of Wales Hospital, said it would be contacting the families involved and offering to meet them face-to-face.

A spokeswoman added: "The safe care of our patients is paramount, and we have always actively encouraged concerns to be raised, so we can take action quickly.

"When we first became aware of the blood glucose monitoring issues at the Princess of Wales Hospital in February 2013, we called a multi-agency Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) meeting, which included South Wales Police."

The spokeswoman said an internal review had also been carried out since.

"The review found no evidence that any patient had received actual harm," she added.

"There were, very unfortunately, some patients who had short term symptoms or discomfort before their blood sugar levels were stabilised.

"However the review found no evidence of actual harm to any patients when their overall blood sugar picture was considered. We would wish once again to apologise to those patients and their families for the distress that this inevitably caused."

The health board also said that Rebecca Jones, Natalie Jones and Lauro Bertulano had resigned before today's court hearing.

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