Nurse convicted for failing to give medication to patients

21/02/2014

A nurse who failed to administer prescribed medication to vulnerable residents of a care home in Newport has today been jailed for eight months, suspended for 12 months, at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Elizabeth Matthews, aged 48, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of ill treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity.

A police investigation was launched last year at the Brookfield House Residential Home in Newport after a manager at the centre found discrepancies in the medication administration records of a number of the residents. Medication, which was meant for the patients, was also found to have been disposed of in the clinical room sink.

Samples of the medication recovered from the sink were later examined by a forensic toxicologist and the results confirmed that five separate drugs: Zocpiclone, Trimethoprim, Quinine, Omeprazole and Donepezil, had been disposed of. Investigators were able to match these drugs to the patients to whom they were prescribed and by reference to the shift rota, determine the identity of the nurse who should have administered the medication.

The defendant was subsequently arrested and questioned with regard to her actions. She eventually admitted to failing to give medication to several patients in her care and was today jailed for eight months, suspended for 12 months, a supervision order for 12 months and 200 hours unpaid work. She was also order to pay costs of £1,200 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Elizabeth Jack, Senior Crown Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Public Protection Unit, said:

"Today's conviction is important in showing that we take the criminal mistreatment of vulnerable and elderly people seriously.

"Elizabeth Matthews' victims were all vulnerable, frail and selected because they lacked capacity and were thus unable to recollect or complain if they did not receive their medication. She was employed to take care of them and ensure that they received their medication in the correct dosage and at the correct time. She failed to do this.

"Concerns over the level of care being given by Matthews were brought by other members of staff, to the attention of the then manager, who investigated the matter and reported her findings to the police.

"Targeting the elderly and the vulnerable and those unable to speak out for themselves makes a crime even more serious, so it is important that we bring the perpetrators to justice whether they be strangers, family members, or professional carers, as in this case.

"Living free from crime is a basic human right and today I urge anyone suffering from criminal mistreatment, to be confident that the CPS understands the serious nature of these crimes, and to report this to the police."