Nurse who denies unlawfully sedating patients is a ‘complete fraud’, jury told
A nurse who allegedly sedated patients for “amusement” has denied she is a “complete fraud” who had given a “performance” to jurors.
Catherine Hudson, 54, is said to have drugged patients on Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s stroke unit with unprescribed sleeping pills.
The mother-of-three is also said to have targeted her alleged victims for an “easy life” on work shifts and if she disliked patients or their families.
WhatsApp messages between Hudson and colleagues are said to have revealed a “culture of abuse” on the unit, Preston Crown Court has heard.
The text messages were never intended to be anything but a joke
But Hudson denies inappropriately giving any drugs and says the text conversations were “just banter” to relieve the stresses of the job.
She has told jurors that for years the unit was understaffed to a “completely dangerous level” and that medication was “scattered around” and freely available.
Hudson added the “whole ward was corrupt” and that “95% of the staff” would take medication from the unit.
Some would use them on duty and “regrettably” she eventually stole drugs, she said.
On Wednesday, she told Peter Wright KC, cross-examining, that she tried to report her concerns about wholesale stealing a “couple of times” but never formally to the health trust.
Hudson said a senior colleague told her nothing could be done about it because “we would all be in trouble”.
She told the court: “There was just no point in reporting it to senior management.
Mr Wright said: “You remained utterly silent about that until your arrest?”
Of course it’s not funny now. It means nothing other than humour. It was just humour
“Yes,” said Hudson.
Mr Wright said “And you consider yourself to be a nurse of integrity?”
“Yes,” she repeated.
Mr Wright said: “You are a complete fraud, aren’t you?”
The defendant replied: “No.”
Mr Wright said: “The last day and a half has been a performance, hasn’t it?”
“No,” said Hudson.
Mr Wright said: “The reality is you have been found out?”
Is the truth here, Miss Hudson, on and each every occasion since your day of arrest you have tried to minimise your guilt?
“No,” said Hudson.
Mr Wright said: “The truth here is you are the one at the centre of all this?”
She repeated: “No.”
Mr Wright went on: “And your little cohort of similar-minded individuals who have shared the joke?”
Hudson said: “No. The text messages were never intended to be anything but a joke.”
Mr Wright said: “Is the truth here, Miss Hudson, on and each every occasion since your day of arrest you have tried to minimise your guilt?”
“No,” said the defendant.
Mr Wright said: “You have devised a response to the allegations to deflect any misconduct on to others and from yourself?”
'Night nights’ is the mechanism by which you were operating, wasn’t it?
Hudson said: “No.”
The defendant, of Coriander Close, Blackpool, has admitted the theft of medicine and conspiracy to steal medicine from the hospital.
She denies ill-treating four patients and stealing another medicine, Mebeverine, intended for an end-of-life care patient.
Fellow nurse Charlotte Wilmot, 48, of Bowland Crescent, Blackpool, denies encouraging Hudson to sedate one of those patients.
Both defendants have also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to ill-treat another patient.
The alleged ill-treatment offences are said to have taken place between February 2017 and November 2018.
A whistleblowing student nurse brought events she allegedly witnessed while on work placement at the unit to the attention of the authorities in November 2018, the court has heard.
Hudson told the court she was “joking” when she told the student nurse to give sleeping pill Zopiclone to an elderly female patient in November 2018.
She also denied telling her junior colleague that it did not matter if the drug was unprescribed because “she’s got a DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) in place so she wouldn’t be opened up if she died”.
Hudson then allegedly went on to give Zopiclone to the patient in the presence of her colleague, the court heard.
The Crown say Zopiclone is potentially life-threatening if administered inappropriately.
In several messages, Hudson referred to patients “going night nights” while she was on duty, the court was told.
You were sedating the ‘troublemakers’, weren’t you?
She told the court: “It’s a phrase that a lot of us said.”
Mr Wright said: “’Night nights’ is the mechanism by which you were operating, wasn’t it?”
Hudson said: “No. We thought it was funny. Of course it’s not funny now. It means nothing other than humour. It was just humour.”
In another message, Hudson wrote: “What a lovely day I have had in blue bay today. Sedated all the troublemakers lol xxx.”
Mr Wright said: “You were sedating the ‘troublemakers’, weren’t you?”
Hudson said: “Joking.”
Mr Wright said: “At whose expense?”
Hudson said: “In a private message, not at the patient’s expense.”
I suggest that you were fully aware of the ability to manipulate the situation to your advantage and to sedate patients at will and when invited to do so by other members of staff
Mr Wright said: “Those who were deemed annoying, they would get it?”
Hudson said: “No.”
The barrister suggested she was sedating patients “at will” when she came on duty and during the course of her shift.
Hudson replied: “Not unless they needed it.”
The Crown say Hudson gave an additional dose of Zopiclone to a male patient, which was revealed in text messages where she wrote to a colleague: “If bed 5 starts he will b getting sedated to hell.”
She then posted: “I’ve just sedated him lol he was gearing up to start (laughing emoji) xxx”.”
Hudson told the court the messages referred to a prescription of Zopiclone she had given three hours earlier.
Mr Wright said: “I am going to suggest you further sedated him.”
Hudson replied: “No because his records don’t show that.”
It’s a joke to ease some stress. There has to be a coping mechanism
Mr Wright said: “You do accept that the records here are only as good as the author who makes the entry?”
Hudson said: “Meaning?”
Mr Wright said: “Meaning I suggest that you were fully aware of the ability to manipulate the situation to your advantage and to sedate patients at will and when invited to do so by other members of staff.”
“No,” said Hudson.
Hudson wrote about another of her alleged victims: “She is f***ing nuts. The whole family should f*** off back to Jockland.”
Mr Wright said: “You thought she and her family were a nuisance, didn’t you?”
Hudson said: “No, because I had never met the family.”
You knew the whole auditing of Zopiclone was utterly dysfunctional?
In reference to another “profoundly unwell” patient, she messaged a colleague: “I sedated one of them to within an inch of her life lol.”
Hudson said: “I put lol after it and I didn’t sedate her to within an inch of her life.”
Mr Wright said: “Why say it?”
Hudson said: “I don’t know. It’s a joke to ease some stress. There has to be a coping mechanism.”
Mr Wright said: “You thought that you could do whatever you liked on that ward?”
Hudson said: “I didn’t.”
Mr Wright said: “You knew the whole auditing of Zopiclone was utterly dysfunctional?”
Hudson said: “I would say it was lax.”
The trial continues on Thursday.
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