A SOMERSET nurse has been struck off after she stole medication from a community hospital to treat her anxiety and depression.
Alison Brigitte Randall was caught stealing zopliclone – a type of sleeping pill – while working at Williton Community Hospital in 2017.
Randall admitted the theft to the police, received a conditional discharge from the courts, and has now been struck off by a panel from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the county’s community hospitals, said that it had put new procedures in place to prevent this from happening again.
Randall’s fate was decided in her absence by an NMC panel, which convened at the council’s London headquarters on September 19 and 20.
The panel heard how the pharmacy department at Williton Community Hospital recorded “over-prescribing” of zopliclone, which is used to treat insomnia.
The hospital alerted Avon and Somerset Constabulary, which installed a covert camera within the utility store where the medicine was kept.
On June 22, 2017, Randall was caught on camera unlocking the drugs cabinet, removing a box, taking out some of its contents and placing the medicine “in the top of her uniform under clothing”.
She was also caught the following day (June 23) removing two items from a box of tablets, placing one into her month and the other into the right hand pocket of her tunic, before replacing the box.
After being shown the images, Randall admitted stealing zopliclone but said that she could not remember the dates when these events occurred.
It later transpired that she had stolen a tablets on 19 occasions between February 3 and June 23, 2017 – taking a total of 435 tablets.
The NMC panel’s report stated: “When interviewed, she confirmed that the tablets were not hers to take, and that she had taken them to control her anxiety and depression.
“On August 3, 2017, she pleaded guilty to the thefts and received a conditional discharge for a period of two years.”
The panel took Randall’s admission of guilt into account in their ruling of serious misconduct, stating that the thefts constituted a “breach of trust” and “fell significantly short of the conduct and standards expected of a nurse”.
They added: “Nurses occupy a position of privilege and trust in society, and are expected at all times to be professional and to maintain professional boundaries.
“Patients and their families must be able to trust nurses with their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
“To justify that trust, nurses must be honest and open and act with integrity.”
The panel said that Randall had expressed “insight and remorse” in written statements, in which she said that was “regretful” of her actions, had not renewed her nursing registration, and said that she was “an addict [who] needed help and was now in recovery.”
Despite this, they concluded that Randall’s “fitness to practise is impaired”, describing her as guilty of “serious dishonesty” and “misuse of power”, and ordered for her to be struck off the nursing register.
The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which employed Randall, said that they had taken steps to make their auditing procedure more robust, to ensure that any misuse of medicine was corrected at the soonest opportunity.
A spokesperson said: “We take the management of this type of medicine very seriously and have strict policies and procedures in place.
“Any member of staff discovered misusing these medicines is subject to the trust’s disciplinary process, which includes reporting incidents to the police and to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
“We have further tightened procedures across all our hospitals since to include separate storage for this type of drug and weekly checks on stocks as well as our regular monthly audits. “