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Nurse who drugged patients for 'easy life' jailed for seven years


A nurse who drugged patients on a hospital stroke unit for an “easy life” and to “exercise contemptuous power” was jailed for seven years and two months.

Catherine Hudson illegally sedated two patients at Blackpool Victoria hospital and conspired with a junior colleague, Charlotte Wilmot, 48, to sedate a third. Wilmot was sentenced to three years.

Hospital managers contacted the police in November 2018 after a student nurse on a work placement said Hudson, 54, suggested administering unprescribed zopiclone, a sleeping pill, to an elderly patient, Aileen Scott.

The whistleblower was further troubled when Hudson commented: “Well, she’s got a DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Order] in place so she wouldn’t be opened up if she died or if it came to any harm.”

She was said to be “shocked” when Hudson then took a strip of zopiclone from her tunic pocket and administered the sedative.

Zopiclone, a class C controlled drug, was potentially life-threatening if given inappropriately to acutely unwell patients, Preston crown court heard.

Wilmot, who was also found guilty of encouraging the “lead offender” Hudson to ill-treat another patient in her care, was imprisoned for three years.

Honorary recorder for Preston, Judge Altham, said: “The offences of ill-treatment were committed by these defendants whose duty was to protect and care for them.

“The patients were as vulnerable as anyone could be. These defendants exploited them for an easy shift, for amusement and to exercise contemptuous power over them.”

He said the whistleblowing nurse, who the prosecution had requested not be named, should be commended for her actions, and added: “It was only as a result of her courage and sense of public duty that what was happening on the ward was exposed and stopped.”

Scott, 76, was given zopiclone after suffering a stroke in 2018 that paralysed the left side of her body. His son, Brian Scott, described Hudson in court as “pure evil” in his victim personal statement.

He said: “The way you spoke about them is beyond belief and nothing short of wicked and pure evil. To this day my mum is fearful about going into hospital. Why? Because of the treatment she received by Catherine Hudson and others at Blackpool.

This will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”

The prosecutors said the ward created “a culture of abuse”, after police investigated WhatsApp messages between the two defendants and other healthcare professionals on the ward.

In one message, Hudson wrote: “What a lovely day I have had in blue bay today. Sedated all the troublemakers lol xxx.” In another she said: “I sedated one of them to within an inch of her life lol. Bet she’s flat for a week haha xxx.”

Another message about a patient said: “I’m going to kill bed 5 xxx.” To which Wilmot responded: “Pmsl [pissing myself laughing] we’ll tonight sedate him to high heaven lol xxx.”

In evidence, Hudson and Wilmot told the court that the messages were “banter” and not meant in that way. They said it was a space for them to air frustration regarding their understaffed department.

Detective chief constable, Jill Johnston, from Lancashire police said: “For a loved one to enter hospital is often a difficult and worrying time for their relatives. For two nurses to behave this way is sickening.

“Hudson’s offending was particularly calculated, all while portraying herself as a role model nurse. This could not be further from the truth.”