Blackpool Victoria: Nurse and healthcare worker who unlawfully drugged patients for 'easy shift' jailed

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A nurse and a healthcare worker, who unlawfully drugged patients on a stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria, have been jailed

A nurse and a healthcare worker, who unlawfully drugged patients so they could have an "easy shift", have been jailed. Catherine Hudson, 54 and Charlotte Wilmot, ill-treated those in their care on a stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria in Lancashire between February 2017 and November 18, the trial heard.

The pair was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Thursday (December 14) after being found guilty of multiple offences after trial in October. Hudson, described as the "leading offender" was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison while Wilmot was sentenced to three years in prison.

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Police had launched an investigation in November 2018 after a student nurse raised concerns about the treatment of patients on the stroke unit at the hospital. The whistle blower nurse had been working with Hudson when she saw her give non-prescribed Zopiclone to a patient. When the nurse questioned Hudson, she was told not to worry about it as the patient was not for resuscitation and would not be ‘opened up’ if she died.

Following further investigation, it was found Hudson, who had worked on the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital as a senior nurse, had needlessly sedated patients between 2017 and 2018 with Wilmot, an assistant practitioner, encouraging her to do so. Both committed the acts for their own amusement, out of spite for the patients and to have an easy shift.

Staff members were arrested during the course of the investigation and their mobile devices seized. A review of their messages revealed a significant number of exchanges describing patients and their families in the most derogatory and cruellest terms.

In one message, Wilmot said a patient needed sedating "to high heaven" with Hudson boasting to others about sedating another patient to "within an inch of her life". Hudson messaged her daughter to tell her that she would sedate one "nightmare" patient as soon as she did her nightly drugs round laughing that he "sleeps like a baby".

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Catherine Hudson and Charlotte Wilmot were sentenced at Preston Crown Court after being found guilty of unlawfully drugging their patients to have an "easy shift".Catherine Hudson and Charlotte Wilmot were sentenced at Preston Crown Court after being found guilty of unlawfully drugging their patients to have an "easy shift".
Catherine Hudson and Charlotte Wilmot were sentenced at Preston Crown Court after being found guilty of unlawfully drugging their patients to have an "easy shift". | Lancashire police

The investigation found an issue of unrestricted access to prescription-only drugs on the stroke unit. Staff would help themselves and self-medicate or steal drugs to supply to others. Drugs such as Zopiclone were stolen and used to drug patients.

Hudson stole Omeprazole and Mebeverine, a medication for stomach cramps and she conspired with others to steal Zopiclone, a sedative medication. She conspired to steal other drugs with Wilmot.

They admitted conspiring to steal, with Hudson admitting a further offence of perverting the course of justice. Following a trial, Hudson was found guilty of three counts of ill treatment and one count of conspiracy to ill-treat and Wilmot found guilty of conspiracy to ill-treat and encouraging Hudson to sedate a patient.

A third former healthcare professional, Marek Grabianowski, 46, of Montpellier Avenue, Bispham, pleaded guilty ahead of trial and was also sentenced today. Two further healthcare professionals, who previously pleaded guilty to several offences, were sentenced in October 2022. Grabianowski admitted three offences of conspiring to steal from employer and one offence of perverting the course of justice. He was handed a 14 month sentence.

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Matthew Pover, 39, of Bearwood Road, Smethwick, had earlier admitted two offences of theft by employee, supplying a Class C controlled drug and being concerned in offer to supply Class C controlled drug. He was given a suspended prison sentence of 24 weeks, suspended for 18 months and 280 hours unpaid work together with a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Hudson sedated patients, including Aileen Scott (pictured) who is from Glasgow but was on holiday in Blackpool.Hudson sedated patients, including Aileen Scott (pictured) who is from Glasgow but was on holiday in Blackpool.
Hudson sedated patients, including Aileen Scott (pictured) who is from Glasgow but was on holiday in Blackpool. | Lancashire police

Victoria Holehouse, 31, of Riverside Drive, Hambleton, admitted one offence of conspiring to steal from employer. She was given a community order for 18 months, 175 hours unpaid work and a victim surcharge of £85.

Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Police, said: “Today’s sentencing reflects the serious abuse of trust, both from staff towards patients and staff towards the hospital with the theft of drugs. The families of the victims expected their loved ones to be looked after and cared for in a place of safety. The reality was the opposite.

“Hudson and Wilmot ill-treated patients without care or compassion, laughing when they came to harm and drugging them to keep them quiet so that they could have an easy shift. The risks associated with these callous acts were obvious – inappropriately sedating elderly stroke patients could lead to added health complications and even death.

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“For a loved one to enter hospital is often a difficult and worrying time for their relatives. For two nurses to behave this way is sickening. They were both fully aware of the risks, which makes their behaviour even harder to comprehend. Hudson’s offending was particularly calculated, all while portraying herself as a role model nurse. This could not be further from the truth.

“Our investigation found further evidence of offending from other nurses, including Grabianowski, Pover and Holehouse, who admitted their guilt before trial. All those involved were removed from the hospital and will never be allowed to work in the care profession again."