Blackpool Victoria Hospital stroke unit nurses to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court

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Two Blackpool Victoria Hospital nurses will be sentenced today for drugging patients with potentially life-threatening sedatives to give themselves an “easy life” on shifts.

A “culture of abuse” was revealed on the hospital's stroke unit when police examined WhatsApp phone messages between two nurses and other members of staff, prosecutors told Preston Crown Court at trial in October.

Nurse Catherine Hudson, 54, was found guilty of giving the sedative zopiclone, a class C controlled drug, to Aileen Scott, 76, to keep her “quiet and compliant”.

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Hudson was convicted of illegally drugging a second patient and conspiring with a junior colleague, Charlotte Wilmot, 48, to administer a sedative to a third – with the intention of giving themselves an “easy life” on shifts at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Police were called in November 2018 to investigate after a whistleblowing student nurse on a work placement said Hudson suggested administering unprescribed zopiclone to a patient.

The student nurse was further troubled when Hudson commented: “Well she’s got a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) in place so she wouldn’t be opened up if she died or like if it came to any harm.”

Zopiclone was potentially life-threatening if given inappropriately to acutely unwell patients, the court heard.

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On Wednesday, Brian Scott entered the witness box to deliver his victim personal statement and said the “bravery” of the whistleblower had “most likely saved my mum’s life”.

He said he and his mother – who was not fit to join him at court – had travelled from Glasgow to the seaside resort in October 2018 for a “well-earned break” to spend quality time together.

The following day Mrs Scott suffered a stroke in her room at the Imperial Hotel and was completely paralysed on the left side of her body as she was rushed to Blackpool Victoria, he said.

Mr Scott said: “I was informed by a consultant that my mum’s condition was critical and the first 24 hours would be crucial as to whether she would survive. We were devastated.”

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He said initially he felt assured his mother was being treated in a safe and caring environment in what he was told was an award-winning unit.

Hudson drugged Aileen Scott, who was from Glasgow, but had been on holiday in Blackpool when she needed treatmentHudson drugged Aileen Scott, who was from Glasgow, but had been on holiday in Blackpool when she needed treatment
Hudson drugged Aileen Scott, who was from Glasgow, but had been on holiday in Blackpool when she needed treatment | Family handout

"Wicked and pure evil"

Mr Scott added: “She was completely immobile and unable to get out of bed. She relied on staff to assist her with personal care, food and the administration of prescribed medication.

“They failed my mum and all my family, it is a miracle that she survived.”

Turning to Hudson in the dock, he added: “Thanks to the bravery of a student nurse in highlighting you and your evil and uncaring ways, it has most likely saved my mum’s life.

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“The way you spoke about them (patients) is beyond belief and nothing short of wicked and pure evil.

“My mum is a proud lady. She has lived a wonderful life, she was a successful company director and always took great pride in her appearance.

“She was and still is a lady with a big heart, polite and kind. Never been a nuisance to anyone.

“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.”

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"Culture of abuse"

Prosecutors said a “culture of abuse” was revealed on the unit when police examined WhatsApp phone messages between the co-defendants and other members of staff.

Hudson wrote about one of her victims: “I sedated one of them to within an inch of her life lol. Bet she’s flat for a week haha xxx.”

In a message exchange about an elderly male patient, Hudson wrote: “I’m going to kill bed 5 xxx.”

Wilmot replied: “Pmsl (pissing myself laughing) well tonight sedate him to high heaven lol xxx.”

“Already in my head to give him double!!”

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The next evening, Hudson messaged Wilmot: “If bed 5 starts he will b getting sedated to hell pmsfl. I’ll get u the abx (antibiotic) xxx.”

Later, Hudson wrote: “I’ve just sedated him lol he was gearing up to start (laughing emoji) xxx.”

Wilmot said: “Pmsl (tablet and hypodermic needle emojis) praise the lord Xxx.”

Another set of messages between the friends showed an “antipathy” towards an elderly female patient and her daughter, the court heard.

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Hudson posted: “R u actually kidding me?? Surely there’s no-one worse than her!! Which bay?? I’m in pink tonight, no dickheads had better b in there or they r being sedated (laughing emojis)!! Xxx.”

Wilmot replied: “Yeah very f****** annoying. Give her the best sleep she ever had pmsl (laughing emojis) xxx.”

Hudson said: “Permanently (laughing emojis) xxx.”

Giving evidence, both defendants denied all the allegations and claimed the private messages were “banter” and not supposed to be taken seriously.

They said the “gallows humour” was the venting of their frustrations at working in a chronically understaffed unit.

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Hudson was also convicted of stealing mebeverine, a medication intended for an end-of-life patient.

She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiring with other colleagues to steal other drugs including zopiclone and also a further offence of perverting the course of justice.

Wilmot was convicted of encouraging Hudson to ill-treat a patient and also pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal medication from the hospital.

Sentencing of former Band 5 nurse Hudson, of Coriander Close, Blackpool, and former assistant practitioner Wilmot, of Bowland Crescent, Blackpool, will take place on Thursday morning.

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