Struck off: Care home nurse drank morphine and replaced drug with water

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A CARE home nurse who drank morphine at work and replaced the drug with water has been struck off for “calculated dishonesty”.

Barbara Moore, an adult nurse at Castel Froma, a residential care home in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, admitted taking the drug on four separate occasions.

Mrs Moore, who had a “lengthy nursing career”, took the liquid morphine, which was meant for patients, and consumed it herself.

Mrs Moore stole the morphine whilst working at Castel Froma care home.                                                  (C) Google Maps

She then replaced the doses of the drug – branded as Oramorph – with water.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) decided last week that the nurse was to be struck off the register, and an interim suspension order imposed for 18 months.

Mrs Moore was also convicted of theft at Coventry and Warwickshire Magistrate’s Court on 6 December 2019.

She was ordered to pay £100 to the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) and was made subject to a Community Order of carrying out unpaid work for 100 hours by 5 December 2020.

The panel heard that Mrs Moore’s actions were discovered by her employers after a secret review of its liquid morphine stock showed that bottles had been diluted with water four times.

On each occasion, the dilution was found to have happened when Mrs Moore was the only registered nurse working.

The care home also checked CCTV footage that allegedly showed Mrs Moore going to the drugs cabinet – at a time when no drugs were administered to patients.

The nurse was then investigated and admitted consuming the morphine and trying to hide her actions.

Mrs Moore was then fired from her job at Castel Froma in June 2019.

Details of the NMC hearing were published last week, highlighting their decision to remove Mrs Moore from the nursing register effective as of the end of the 28-day appeal period.

The charges of theft on four separate occasions and dishonesty regarding all incidents, were all found proved by way of Mrs Moore’s “clear and unambiguous admissions”.

In their report, the NMC said: “The panel considered the charges to be extremely serious, particularly due to the vulnerability of the type of residents involved and Mrs Moore’s dishonesty. 

“Mrs Moore had stolen Oramorph from Castel Froma on four occasions, consumed the medication whilst on shift, and then calculatedly attempted to conceal her actions by filling the Oramorph bottles with water. 

“Mrs Moore had exposed residents in her care to a significant risk of unwarranted harm, again, noting as it did, that these residents were extremely vulnerable due to the nature of their health conditions.”

In their decision, the NMC said that such actions “seriously brought Mrs Moore’s professional conduct into question.”

The panel proposed that despite Mrs Moore demonstrating “genuine remorse for her misconduct and conviction”, her dishonesty was a “significant departure from the standards expected of a registered nurse.”

In regards to their final decision, the NMC said: “Mrs Moore’s dishonesty was repeated and calculated.

“Mrs Moore had only offered limited evidence by way of insight into her misconduct and conviction, as well as little attempt to demonstrate remediation; despite having a substantial amount of time to reflect on her conduct and behaviour.

“Having regard to the effect of Mrs Moore’s actions in bringing the profession into disrepute, the panel has concluded that nothing short of (a striking-off order) would be sufficient in this case. 

“In the panel’s judgment, public confidence in the regulatory process would be damaged if Mrs Moore would be permitted to practise as a registered nurse prior to the substantive order coming into effect. 

“The panel decided to impose an interim suspension order in the circumstances of this case. To conclude otherwise would be incompatible with its earlier findings.”