A DISTRICT nurse who helped himself to prescription drugs has escaped being struck off.
A disciplinary hearing agreed that Craig Campbell’s fitness to practice was “impaired” but, after hearing evidence that he had suffered sex abuse, decided against removing him from the register.
Campbell, 30, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was instead given a five-year caution order, meaning the matter will be disclosed to potential employers until 2016.
The hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard that Campbell wrote himself prescriptions for diazepam and self-administered midazolam.
Campbell had no powers to prescribe drugs and was caught out when a pharmacist became suspicious and an investigation was launched.
The NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee was told Campbell took midazolam from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on more than one occasion between April and December 2007.
The committee also heard that Campbell fraudulently obtained diazepam a number of times between October and December 2007 from medical centres connected with Barrhead Medical Centre in East Renfrewshire, where he was based.
Ellen McGarigle, a senior registered nurse from Glasgow, was assigned as an investigating officer to the case and held two meetings with Campbell about the allegations made against him.
She said he admitted taking the drugs for his own use.
Shelley Brownlee, representing the NMC, told the panel Campbell had admitted taking midazolam – which is often used as a sedative – on three or four occasions after seeing a doctor use it on a patient to “take away memories of pain”.
He also admitted taking diazepam over a period of three weeks when he felt stressed at night.
Diazepam is used to help with symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
Mrs McGarigle said: “In the first interview his recollection was hazy – he didn’t seem to remember a lot.
“But then he went on to say he did write a prescription but did not give a full account.
“He said he wrote a prescription for 56 diazepam, which would never have been appropriate as he had no prescriptive duties or training.
“He also told me that when he was working on ward 20 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital before starting at the Barrhead centre he had taken midazolam and injected himself with it – he’d taken it from the pharmacy cupboard at the hospital.”
Mrs McGarigle – who has been a registered nurse since 1972 and has 5 years of experience carrying out investigations – said she was shocked at the revelation.
“I was very surprised that he had injected himself.
“I have never come across it in all my years of work.
“I was also shocked that no one at the hospital had seemed to notice the drugs were missing.
“He said he took diazepam at night because he had had a previous unhappy experience of sexual abuse.”
Ms Brownlee also informed the panel that Campbell was convicted of attempted fraud at Paisley Sheriff Court in April 2008.
She said: “On 7 December 2007, Mr Campbell attended Neilston Pharmacy and informed them he was acting as a representative for someone else and was collecting their prescription.
“The pharmacist was aware that he had been in for a prescription earlier that week, which had been queried.
“She thought the signature may have been forged and contacted the doctor whose name was signed off on it.
“The doctor confirmed it was not his signature and the police were alerted.
“Mr Campbell’s car was searched and officers found a pile of blank prescription sheets.
“He was arrested and questioned and he admitted the charge.”
Campbell pled guilty to attempted fraud and was admonished on good behaviour.
He did not attend the NMC hearing and had not arranged representation.
Winsome Levy, chair of the Conduct and Competence Committee, said the panel were satisfied that the facts were proven and amounted to misconduct.
She said “The allegations involve both theft and deception and the panel considers this to be very serious.
“We all agree that the registrant’s fitness to practice is currently impaired and our primary consideration is the protection of the public and the maintenance of public confidence in the profession.
“The panel has decided to subject the registrant to a caution order for a period of five years.”
This means the allegations will stay on Campbell’s record for five years but he will still be able to practice as a registered nurse.
Ms Levy added: “At the end of the order the note will be removed, however, if any new allegations are made against the registrant this record will be made available to the NMC.”