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Stepping Hill nurse sees suspension lifted

A nurse cleared of saline poisoning can return to work under restricted conditions ruled the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Rebecca Leighton spent six weeks in prison accused of the murders of three patients at Stepping Hill Hospital, where she worked as acting sister.

All charges were dropped and she was freed on the 2 September.

The NMC imposed an interim suspension order of 18 months on 2 August 2011 but yesterday (14 September) chose to revoke the order in light of Leighton's release without charge.

However, in light of the "compelling evidence related to the theft and medication from Stepping Hill Hospital" a new interim order restricting Leighton's practice was put in place.

The NMC panel heard Leighton admitted theft of medication after police found a quantity of Flucloxacillin, Ibupofen and Tramadol at her home.

The panel believes the 'Interim Conditions of Practice Order' "is both a necessary and proportionate response given the allegation."

Under the new interim order she:

  • Must only work in the capacity as a registered nurse at Stepping Hill Hospital
  • Must not hold the drugs keys for any ward, department or nursing team.
  • Must not engage in ordering, receipt and secure storage of any medicinal products (as defined by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)).
  • Must not administer any medicinal product (as defined by the MHRA) unless under the direct supervision of another registered nurse.
  • Must notify her employer of the interim conditions imposed on her practice by the NMC.

"The panel considered that although the charges against Ms Leighton of criminal damage intending to endanger life has been discontinued, there is still compelling evidence related to the theft of medication from Stepping Hill Hospital," said the NMC's chief executive Professor Dickson Weir-Hughes.

"Regardless of the other circumstances of the case, the theft of medication is a matter of serious professional misconduct that demands full investigation. We support the panel's decision that a continuing interim order is necessary in this case."

Leighton was present at the NMC hearing and was represented by the Royal College of Nursing.

Nursing and Midwifery Council