'Angel turned evil' nurse faces jail for at least 35 years for killing two patients
Self-styled 'angel turned evil' Victorino Chua has been jailed for at least 35 years for murdering two patients and poisoning 20 others.
Father-of-two Chua, 49, described by detectives as a narcissistic psychopath, injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules while working on two acute wards at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, in June and July 2011.
These were unwittingly used by other nurses, causing a series of insulin overdoses to mainly elderly victims.
Filipino Chua was convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court yesterday following a three month trial.
His victims' loved ones were in court today as Chua was told he would serve a minimum of 35 years before being eligible for parole.
Mr Justice Openshaw told the court: "He has committed a dreadful crime and he must now pay the price."
His victims' loved ones packed the public gallery above the dock where Chua sat below, with 10 jurors returning to court to see him sent down following a trial stretching over four months.
All sat grim faced in silence as Mr Justice Openshaw recounted the pain, suffering and deaths of his victims and the anguish of their loved ones.
Impassive throughout the entire trial, Chua, dressed in a brown coat zipped up to his neck, showed no flicker of emotion, only blinking as he sat listening.
Thousands of foreign nurses could be working in Britain with bogus qualifications it has emerged, after police warned that the medic who killed two patients at Stockport’s Stepping Hill hospital used forged photocopies to secure his job.
The case has raised serious concerns over the way overseas nursing staff are monitored and assessed when applying for jobs in the NHS.
Investigators working on the Chua case became so concerned about loopholes in the system of checking the veracity of medical qualifications that they contacted the Department for Health and the Home Office to urgently raise the matter.
Since Chua’s arrest new checks have been brought in to ensure any foreign nurse applying for work is subject to more stringent checks.
Further changes from October will ensure every nurse is required to prove their qualifications every three years, but critics claim with more than half a million nursing staff in the UK such checks are impractical and will take too long to implement.
It is feared that thousands of registered nurses, who arrived in the UK a decade ago or before, may have below par, or even bogus, medical qualifications. More than 90,000 nurses who are registered to work in the UK trained overseas.
The fears come at a time when the Prime Minister is promising to roll out a seven day a week NHS system, meaning stretched managers will be forced to recruit and rely on even more overseas staff.
Chua, who came to the UK in 2002 on a two-year working visa, managed to land a job as a staff nurse at Stepping Hill by presenting photocopies of his medical certificates.
Detectives who travelled to Manila to look into his background now suspect that even those documents may have been forged.
Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor in the North West, said he was so worried about the implications for patient safety that he immediately wrote to the Government.
He told BBC North West: “In all my 24 years as a prosecutor, I have never escalated concerns to another government department except in this case.
"I do not know whether there were hundreds or thousands or dozens. What I do know is the opportunities were there for them to lie about their qualifications, to obtain them fraudulently, and to cover up their disciplinary matters. It must be, for all patients, extremely worrying and desperately concerning.”
After concern was raised over the widespread implications of the case, the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC), which registers all half a million nurses working in Britain, launched a major review of overseas NHS staff.
They looked into the background of more than 14,000 non-EU nurses working in the UK, including 11,500 from the Philippines.
While the NMC claimed they found no similar cases of forgery and no nurses were struck off as a result of the review, the clear gaps in the monitoring system have prompted a major overhaul.
In October last year the rules were tightened up for overseas applicants who must now pass a series of competency tests before coming to the UK. The new system, similar to the one already operated by the General Medical Council (GMC), will come into force this October, but critics say it may be little more than a “box ticking exercise”.
Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, said: “The NMC has a huge brief beyond its capabilities. With more than half a million nurses registered this will inevitably take a long time to carry out and if, like with the GMC system, it finds that 99.3 per cent of those tested are sound then you have to wonder if it will be anything more than a bureaucratic ritual.”