Former Haywards Heath agency nurse struck off after stealing drugs

Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre ENGSUS00120121112165149
Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre ENGSUS00120121112165149

An agency nurse who worked for a specialist unit at a Haywards Heath hospital has been struck off after taking medication he stole.

Patrick Cunningham, 41, was working for a healthcare provider First Assist in Purley Surrey, when he was caught stealing Tramadol and Midazalam from sealed bags.

He was interviewed at Croydon Police station where he also admitted stealing medication while working as an agency nurse for Hurstwood Park ICU in Haywards Heath, part of Princess Royal Hospital.

A fitness to practise hearing held by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on November 6 and 7 also heard the 41-year-old admitted attacking a police officer while in custody for suspected drink-driving on Christmas Eve in 2013.

The report stated that, while in a cell, he ‘pushed a custody assistant against a wall and kicked a police officer in the shin’.

The hearing was told that Mr Cunningham placed patients at risk ‘by depleting stocks and by working under the influence of the drugs he had stolen’.

The report also stated the nurse tried to ‘blame his employers for their failure to take action to stop him from stealing the drugs’.

Mr Cunningham was suspended from First Assist pending an investigation and subsequently resigned from the role as well as resigning from agency work.

Louise Hartley, representing the NMC, said: “The public would be shocked to hear about this behaviour from a registered nurse and that it would do serious harm to the reputation of the profession.”

She said Mr Cunningham had attitude problems which are ‘not easily remedial’.

The NMC heard the nurse had engaged with the process of the case, had shown some remorse and had made early admissions.

But the panel concluded Mr Cunningham had acted in a way that could have foreseeably resulted in harm to others, had abused his position of trust, been dishonest, shown ‘a lack of insight into the seriousness of his actions’and their consequences’, and shown violence towards the public and patients.

The report concluded: “The seriousness of the behaviours identified in this case are incompatible with Mr Cunningham’s ongoing registration and public confidence in the profession can only be maintained if a striking-off order is imposed.

“The panel has therefore determined that a striking-off order is the only sufficient and proportionate sanction which will protect the public and address the wider public interest.”

The report said the profession would be ‘undermined’ if the nurse remained on the register.

Mr Cunningham, who currently lives in Behxill, will not be able to apply to work as a nurse for the next five years.

He was not present or represented at the hearing.