Prison sentence for Blackpool nurse who drugged patients

A nurse who drugged patients to keep them quiet on an NHS stroke unit has been jailed for seven years and two months.

Catherine Hudson, 54, was sentenced today at Preston Crown Court for three counts of ill-treating patients and one count of conspiracy to ill-treat while working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“Their conduct is a complete betrayal of the trust placed in them as medical professionals”

Karen Tonge

She was also sentenced for stealing and conspiring to steal medication from the hospital and perverting the course of justice by attempting to dispose of the medication.

Her offences came to light after a student nurse who worked alongside Hudson during a placement raised concerns, leading to a police investigation being launched in November 2018.

Hudson, of Coriander Close, Blackpool, was arrested and later stood trial alongside colleague Charlotte Wilmot, 48, an assistant practitioner on the stroke unit.

Also today at Preston Crown Court, Wilmot, of Bowland Crescent, Blackpool, was jailed for three years for encouraging Hudson to ill-treat a patient and for conspiring to steal medication.

In addition, Hudson’s ex-partner, Marek Grabianowski, a former nurse himself, was given a 14-month prison sentence for conspiring with Hudson to steal medication and helping her to hide the evidence.

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Grabianowski, 46, of Montpellier Avenue, Bispham, was already off the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register when concerns were raised about him.

Charlotte Wilmot sentenced for Blackpool Victoria Hospital crimes

Charlotte Wilmot

During the trial, the jury heard how Hudson had unlawfully drugged patients on the stroke ward with sedatives while working as an experienced band 5 registered nurse.

Prosecutors argued that Hudson’s motivations included to make her shifts easier, simply for her own amusement or because the patient or their family had irritated her.

Text messages were shown to the court whereby Hudson had bragged about sedating patients “to high heaven” and “within an inch of [their] life”.

Meanwhile, the investigation found an issue of unrestricted access to prescription-only drugs on the stroke unit, with staff able to freely take medication for themselves or others.

Two other health professionals were sentenced in October 2022 for stealing or conspiring to steal from the unit.

These included nurse Matthew Pover, 39, of Bearwood Road, Smethwick, who admitted to the offences of theft by employee, supplying a Class C controlled drug and being concerned in offer to supply Class C controlled drug.

He was given a suspended prison sentence of 24 weeks, suspended for 18 months and 280 hours unpaid work together with a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Both Pover and Hudson are currently subject to an interim suspension order by the NMC, meaning they have been unable to practise as nurses while the criminal proceedings have been ongoing.

Their cases will be progressed by the NMC in due course and will both likely be struck off the register for good.

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Detective chief inspector Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Today’s sentencings reflect the serious abuse of trust, both from staff towards patients and staff towards the hospital with the theft of drugs.

“The families of the victims expected their loved ones to be looked after and cared for in a place of safety. The reality was the opposite.”

“The actions of these individuals in no way reflects our caring and compassionate colleagues”

Trish Armstrong-Child

Ms Johnston described Hudson’s offending as “particularly calculated” and said she had committed the crimes while “portraying herself as a role model nurse”.

“All those involved were removed from the hospital and will never be allowed to work in the care profession again,” she added.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to the victims and their families, for the way that they have supported this investigation and to the investigative team, which has worked tirelessly to help give justice to those involved.”

Karen Tonge, specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who dealt with this case, said: “Catherine Hudson needlessly drugged patients with the full knowledge of the potentially life-threatening consequences of her actions and Wilmot encouraged her.

“Hudson and Wilmot showed a complete disregard for the wellbeing of the vulnerable patients, whose care should have been their top priority.

“The callous way they mocked and laughed about the patients was absolutely shameful. Their conduct is a complete betrayal of the trust placed in them as medical professionals.

“I hope the victims and their families can find some comfort in knowing that those who mistreated their loved ones have been brought to justice.”

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Ms Tonge also praised the student nurse who blew the whistle.

“I would also like to thank the student nurse who came forward to raise her concerns, without whose bravery and support this prosecution may not have been possible,” she said.

Also responding to the sentencing, Trish Armstrong-Child, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust had made changes following the case.

She said: “We were deeply shocked by these offences and the actions of these individuals in no way reflects our caring and compassionate colleagues, who continue to deliver high quality care across the trust.

“The trust has however taken immediate action to further ensure patient safety within the trust.

“Those changes to working practices and culture have been delivered and continue to improve.”

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