'Nurse raided drugs intended for sick children', court hears

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A nurse at a specialist London hospital repeatedly stole drugs intended for sick children, a court heard. 

Philippa Brown, 31, raided the stocks of cyclizine at Evelina Children’s Hospital, using her swipe card and PIN number to get into the secure medicine cabinets, it was alleged.

Cyclizine is commonly used to treat vomiting and dizziness but “can also be used to give a feeling of euphoria”, said prosecutor William Gatward. 

“At some point staff at the hospital became aware that certain drugs are short — the amount the computer says is not the same as when they count the numbers up. The theory is that Brown, over the course of several months, was using her card to take the drugs out.”

He told a jury at Inner London crown court that Brown, a clinical nurse specialist in gastroenterology at the hospital, part of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, was linked to 739 suspect withdrawals from computerised  medicine cabinets between May 2015 and January last year.

Staff began to notice when they requested a dose of cyclizine but found that the cabinet had unexpectedly run out. The court heard that some of the suspicious withdrawals under Brown’s name were cancelled but drugs could still have been removed because the drawers were opened. Mr Gatward also said some of the transactions using Brown’s PIN number happened when she was on holiday or off sick. 

“Her swipe card, user number and PIN number are entered on these occasions, and if it is not her then it is some other person obviously doing this with her assistance,” he alleged. 

“Her swipe card was used in different parts of the hospital where Ms Brown doesn’t work. She was in a position of power, people know and trust her, and she used that not to benefit patients but in a way that put the hospital at risk, by taking medication without  authorisation.”

Brown, of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, has problems with her own digestive system and needs to be connected to a device feeding her nutrients for 12 hours a day. She did not answer police questions when arrested and denies one charge of fraud by abuse of position. The trial continues.


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