Thursday 27 July 2017

Prior suspect in patients' deaths can work again

Terri Judd in Manchester

A NURSE who was suspected of being involved in the deaths of several patients at a British hospital has been told she can return to work, despite admitting stealing drugs.

Rebecca Leighton -- who remains, however, suspended by the NHS -- was released from six weeks in custody a fortnight ago after charges of criminal damage with intent to endanger life were dropped.

The nurse, who was accused of tampering with saline solution at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport, close to Manchester, where three patients had died, said her life had been a "living hell" since her arrest on July 20 on suspicion of murder.

Yesterday, a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reinstated Ms Leighton's registration -- but the hospital's NHS Trust said she would remain suspended pending their own investigation.

The day-long hearing was told that police had refused to rule out the chance that further evidence might be found against the 27-year-old as part of an investigation into hundreds of staff at the hospital.

It was also revealed that while police had not pursued a case of theft against her, she had admitted stealing three different drugs, including the highly addictive opioid tramadol, from her workplace.

Registration

Ms Leighton appeared before the NMC yesterday to appeal against an interim order suspending her registration.

Last night the chairman of the panel Dr John Unsworth said it had agreed to rescind her suspension but placed strict conditions on her return to nursing. "The panel considers the theft of drugs a serious allegation which calls into question the honesty and integrity of the registrant," he said.

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said Ms Leighton remained suspended pending its own investigation, but added that she would now revert to full pay. (© Independent News Service)

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