Blackpool nurses are found guilty of unlawfully drugging patients

‘Callous and dangerous’ Blackpool hospital nurses are found guilty of unlawfully drugging patients after trial heard they swapped messages saying ‘I’m going to kill bed five’ and ‘Ha ha yeah, sedation we love it’

A NHS nurse and a care assistant friend have today been found guilty of drugging ‘troublemaker’ patients on a hospital stroke unit for their ‘own amusement’ and an ‘easy life’.

Catherine Hudson, 54, and Charlotte Wilmot, 48, are also said to have targeted patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital if they disliked them or their relatives.

The friends were today warned that they face jail for their crimes. Neither nurse has ever been accused of causing any deaths, although patients on their ward were ‘profoundly unwell’.

WhatsApp messages between Hudson and Wilmot were uncovered after a probe was launched into alleged misconduct.

In one text message to a colleague, Hudson wrote: ‘I sedated one of them to within an inch of her life lol. Bet she’s flat for a week haha xxx.’ 

In others, jurors were told Hudson wrote that she was going to ‘kill bed 5’ and planned to give one patient ‘the best sleep she ever had’. ‘What a lovely day I have had in blue bay today,’ Hudson wrote in a message read to the jury, adding: ‘Sedated all the troublemakers lol xxx.’

In May 2016, in response to Hudson suggesting the sedation of a patient, Wilmot replied: ‘Ha ha yeah sedation we love it.’ 

Catherine Hudson (left), 54, and Charlotte Wilmot (right), 48, pictured leaving Preston Crown Court, where they were convicted today

Pictured are Hudson (right) and Wilmot (left) exchanged messages joking about sedating their patients

Drugs such as Zopiclone were stolen and used to drug patients. Police have released pictures of the medication taken today

Zopiclone (pictured by police) was used to sedate patients for their ‘own amusement’ and an ‘easy life’. Some they didn’t like were also drugged

A student nurse on a work placement told authorities she saw Hudson give unprescribed sleeping pill Zopiclone to a patient in November 2018, Preston Crown Court heard. 

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.’ 

She bravely gave evidence against them.

‘I’m going to kill bed 5. : I’ve just sedated him lol lol’: Horrifying messages between the NHS staff

In an exchange about one patient, Hudson wrote: ‘I’m going to kill bed 5 xxx’

Wilmot replied: ‘Pmsl (p*ssing myself laughing) well tonight sedate him to high heaven lol.’

Hudson later wrote: ‘I’ve just sedated him lol lol he was gearing up to start.’

Wilmot said: ‘Pmsl (along with tablets and hypodermic needle emojis) Praise the lord.’

Speaking about a ‘profoundly unwell’ female patient who had thrown a beaker of orange juice in her direction, Wilmot messaged Hudson: ‘Very f****** annoying. Give her the best sleep she ever had.’

Today Catherine Hudson, 54, was convicted of drugging two patients for an ‘easy life’ during work shifts between February 2017 and November 2018. Hudson was cleared of ill-treating two other patients.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court also convicted her of conspiring with a junior colleague, Charlotte Wilmot, 48, to administer a sedative to a third patient. 

Prosecutors said messages between Hudson, an experienced Band 5 registered nurse, and Wilmot a Band 4 assistant practitioner, revealed a ‘culture of abuse’ – with patients drugged for their ‘own amusement’. 

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

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.

Judge Robert Altham, the Honorary Recorder of Preston, remanded Hudson into custody following the verdicts, which were reached after nearly 14 hours of deliberation.

He said: ‘The sentence for Catherine Hudson plainly has to be a sentence of immediate custody.

‘The only question is the length.’

Judge Altham granted bail to Wilmot, who was also convicted of encouraging Hudson to drug a patient, but told her the ‘overwhelming likelihood’ was that she too would receive an immediate custodial term.

Karen Tonge, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS North West’s Complex Casework Unit, said: ‘The callous and dangerous actions of Hudson and Wilmot are truly shocking. They showed utter contempt for patients in their care.

‘Their role was to care for the patients on their ward. This included elderly and vulnerable patients who were seriously ill. Instead, they conspired to ill-treat them, sedating them for their own convenience and amusement or purely out of spite.

‘Patients should be able to feel safe and secure in hospital and know those charged with their care will not do them deliberate harm. Their relatives and friends should feel confident that the needs of their loved ones are being looked after.

‘They grossly abused their position and the trust that patients and their families put in them. Now they must face the consequences of their actions.’

Hudson is accused of ill-treating four patients and stealing the medicine, Mebeverine, at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. She was convicted of drugging two patients

Jurors heard that Wilmot had already pleaded guilty to numerous offences of conspiring with Hudson to steal antibiotics from the unit.

Wilmot, who was dismissed by her employers in 2020, said she had not been qualified to administer medications.

Asked by her barrister Imran Shafi KC about her co-defendant Hudson, she said: ‘I have always thought that Cathy was really good at her job. She was always a really conscientious nurse, really good with her patients, nothing untoward whatsoever.

‘She has got a big personality. She exaggerates things a lot mainly for the effect, that’s how she was. She would say things that would shock people.’

On her own approach to the job, she said: ‘I worked hard. I was never off sick and I looked after my patients to the best of my ability. I cared about my patients. ‘ Although he admitted she did not enjoy the job all the time.

Trish Armstrong-Child, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘It is very clear from the evidence heard by the jury that inappropriate and unacceptable conduct and practices were taking place at the time and I want to say sorry to patients, families and other colleagues who were impacted by that.

‘It’s important now to reassure local people that Blackpool Teaching Hospitals has made significant improvements across a range of issues including staffing, managing medicine and creating a more respectful culture.

‘Part of these changes have been to actively encourage anyone who comes into contact with the Trust in any way to speak up if they see or hear anything that causes concern or they are not comfortable with in any way.

‘That’s critical to identifying issues quickly and putting improvements in place to ensure people feel safe in our care.

‘Lastly, it’s important to recognise that the Trust employs a team of more than 8,000 people who work so very hard to provide safe and respectful care every day and night. Regulators have repeatedly highlighted ‘caring’ as a strength, this is a key area for all inspections to consider.

‘I want to say thank you to all colleagues who are doing everything in their power to support patients and their families.’

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