A 31-year-old nurse who dedicated her life to helping children after beating cancer has admitted that she stole medication from the children’s ward at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Laura Howe stole the drugs that were supposed to alleviate the pain of sick children. She was caught when staff noticed the bottles of liquid codeine had been diluted and set up a hidden camera to know who the culprit was.
After one year raiding the drugs cabinet, Howe confessed to her bosses. She pleaded guilty to theft and an offense under the Medicines Act.
But now, she has been allowed to keep her job in the hospital.
A court heard Howe started to use the painkillers to treat her own mental health issues so she watered down the codeine for children.
Rachel Glover, prosecuting, said: “It came to the attention of the hospital that medication stock levels were reducing and that it did not correspond with what was being prescribed.
“Last July another nurse noticed that a bottle of liquid codeine had a strange viscosity.
“Tests were done on three bottles and it was found that the strength of the medicine was 71 per cent, 45 per cent and 21 per cent.
“The reduction in the strength suggested they had been tampered with and diluted.”
But when the bottles were changed, the same thing still happened. CCTV was then installed to catch the culprit.
Howe, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 9 years old, was questioned by bosses and she admitted to the offense.
Sophie Allinson, mitigating, said Howe had needed to ‘deal with stress and worry from a young age’ and that the nurse had ‘took the medication to numb the pain.’
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