A NURSE has been cautioned for stealing and taking drugs while on duty at Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s emergency department.

Gabrielle Townsend admitted abusing her position as a nurse by stealing the painkiller dihydrocodeine from A&E over a period of six months between February 2016 and July 2016 at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) misconduct hearing.

Concerns were raised about the high usage of the drug in the emergency department in May 2016, which led to a surveillance investigation which included the collection of CCTV footage.

Ms Townsend was captured on camera stealing the medication and taking it with a glass of water in July.

The nurse, who attended the hearing heavily pregnant, admitted her dishonesty when questioned in an interview, saying she had ‘a number of unfortunate events in life which started in 2013’ but she could not recall how many tablets she took and how many occasions there were.

Ms Townsend told the panel about a combination of ‘difficult circumstances’ that took a toll ‘both mentally and physically.’

Ms Townsend was initially dismissed from the trust from RBH for gross misconduct on 11 August 2016 – but was reinstated following an appeal hearing which took place on 11 October 2016.

The hearing was told the case was ‘a serious departure from the standards expected of a nurse’ adding ‘if you were unwell then it was your responsibility to seek professional help.’

The hearing was told: “The panel found that your practice, at the material time, fell below the standard required of a registered nurse, could have compromised patient safety and had the potential to bring the reputation of the nursing profession into disrepute.”

The NMC ruled suspending Ms Townsend would not be in the public interest because there is no risk of repetition and therefore no risk to patients.

The nurse was ‘open, forthcoming and candid’ in her evidence and showed insight and remorse, adding ‘it was the biggest mistake you had ever made.’ A caution order will remain on Ms Townsend’s record for four years.