Following several suspicious deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Rebecca Leighton, a nurse working at the hospital, was accused of tampering with medical products, arrested and charged. She was consequently banned from working as a nurse by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and suspended from her job by the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.
The Greater Manchester Police later decided to drop all charges against Miss Leighton, and she was released from custody. The NMC has now lifted her ban subject to certain restrictions, as she had admitted to stealing drugs, including a painkiller, from the hospital. The restrictions include only working at Stepping Hill Hospital, not holding any keys to drugs cupboards, and not administering medicine except under supervision. The Trust has decided to continue her suspension while they review the new allegations, but she will now be on full pay.
Miss Leighton's lawyer called for her reinstatement, arguing that the continuation of her suspension on allegations of theft, despite the more serious charges against her being dropped, would have a "disproportionate and devastating" effect on her professional reputation and financial situation. He went on to suggest that fresh interest in her case could result in "trial by media".
However, lawyers outlining the case against Miss Leighton, urged the panel to prevent her from returning to work, noting that the “theft of anything, including drugs, from a hospital setting where a nurse is in a position of trust, in essence, is a breach-of-trust crime and is a serious matter in itself, irrespective of any other aggravating background.”
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