Northampton General Hospital nurse struck off for sleeping on duty and ‘removing’ hundreds of painkilling tablets

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A NURSE has been struck off for removing hundreds of painkilling tablets from Northampton General Hospital and sleeping on duty after a tribunal saw documentary evidence from pharmacists.

Emma Patchett was found guilty of the charges by a Nursing and Midwifery Council tribunal, which heard that she had taken the drugs from Abington Ward – a trauma and orthopaedic ward – between June and December 2006.

The panel was also told that Patchett, who claimed she was too ill to attend any of the hearings, slept while she was supposed to be working at various times between 2003 and 2006.

The judgement said: “The drug was very rarely required for Abington Ward patients but documentary record produced by the hospital pharmacy suggested large numbers of boxes, each of which contained 100 tablets, were repeatedly being supplied to the ward.

“The panel is satisfied the registrant has never been able to provide any satisfactory explanation as to why she ordered large quantities of this drug, or why she never queried why the pharmacy was delivering such huge quantities of a drug which was hardly ever used.”

Patchett asked for the keys to the medication cupboard several times when off duty, often coinciding with drug deliveries, giving excuses that the tribunal said were “beyond the bounds of credibility”.

Once she pretended she needed some saline solution for a relative who had supposedly burnt her arm, and another time pretended to search for a fob watch she had lost that was given to her by her late husband.

On New Year’s Eve 2006, while she was herself an inpatient in another department, she came to the Abington Ward medication cabinet purportedly to get pain relief for herself. Her boss later discovered she had recently been given morphine.

She was given an interim suspension order for the next 18 months to stop her practising during any period of appeal.

The judgement said: “The registrant has shown no recognition of her serious failings and of the extent to which such conduct is likely to lower the profession in the eyes of the public.

“Her misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the register.”