Rebecca Leighton: Staff 'took' drugs from hospital

Rebecca Leighton Rebecca Leighton admitted removing medication

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A nurse cleared over the poisoning deaths of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital claimed staff habitually took drugs from the premises.

Rebecca Leighton, 29, spent six weeks in jail after her arrest but was released when prosecutors said there was not enough evidence against her.

She was sacked when police found painkillers at her home.

But at a disciplinary hearing, the nurse alleged staff took drugs in "case of emergencies" during holidays.

Ms Leighton admitted removing the medication from the hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and conceded her fitness to practice was impaired.

During police interviews, she claimed staff regularly took drugs such as the painkiller ibuprofen for their own use, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) disciplinary panel heard.

Tom Hoskins, for the NMC, said: "She said that if the police were to search any number of employees from Stepping Hill Hospital, a random person, they would find them also in possession of such tablets."

Twenty-two people suffered hypoglycaemic episodes after saline drips were allegedly sabotaged with insulin between June and July 2011 at Stepping Hill.

Second arrest

Eight of these victims - who were treated on acute care wards for seriously ill patients - have now died.

A second nurse who worked on the same wards, Victorino Chua, was later held on suspicion of three counts of murder and 18 counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

He was further arrested on suspicion of tampering with medical records and has been released on police bail.

Mr Chua was held over the deaths of Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Derek Weaver, 83.

Alleged poisoning victims William Dickson, 82, Linda McDonagh, 60, John Beeley, 73, Beryl Hope, 70, and Mary Cartwright, 89, are believed to have eventually died from natural causes.

The panel is hearing evidence to decide whether her fitness to practice is impaired.

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