Oxford Nurse on Trial for Diversion of Midazolam

A NURSE who forged ‘bogus’ medical records in a plot to snatch sedatives was caught off-duty rummaging through a hospital drugs cupboard, a court has heard.

Prosecutors allege Leona Bellhouse pinched a ‘large quantity’ of midazolam while she was working at the John Radcliffe’s Hospital’s gynaecology department.

Family and friends packed into the public gallery as jurors were told how the 59-year-old helped herself to the sedatives for ‘personal use’ during a 14-month stint.

In his opening to jurors, prosecutor Damian van Duyvenbode said Bellhouse crafted false entries in a medical register as a ‘cover up’ after stealing the drugs.

Bellhouse used real names of patients treated by medics in the department but forged doctor’s signatures to grab hold of the drugs, used as an anaesthetic before surgery, he said.

Mr van Duyvenbode told Oxford Crown Court yesterday the drugs were kept in a locked cupboard, adding: “It’s our case that this defendant had been responsible for stealing large quantities of midazolam over a number of months that she had worked in that department.”

Bellhouse denied she stole midazolam from the Headington hospital in her police interview, claiming the drugs were often ‘passed around’ the department.

But the defendant could not offer any explanation to officers about why the drugs had ‘disappeared’, Mr van Duyvenbode told jurors.

The prosecutor also claimed traces of midazolam discovered in a hair sample taken from Bellhouse after her arrest were ‘consistent with consumption’ of the drug.

Taking the stand yesterday, hospital porter Stephen Jacob claimed he discovered Bellhouse’s alleged offending while cleaning the department’s operating theatres and anaesthetic room once medics had left for the day.

He spotted Bellhouse, who told him she had been asked to check the drugs cupboard was locked, which he thought was strange as she had been working in a different section of the department that day, the court heard.

Mr Jacob said he heard ‘rustling’ before finding drugs packaging thrown into the bin he had emptied moments before Bellhouse arrived.

The witness told the jury of seven men and five women he then collected the discarded packaging, showing them to a colleague the next day.

While being quizzed by defence barrister Liam Walker, Mr Jacob told the court he did not spot Bellhouse placing anything into her pockets from the cupboard.

Consultant Dr Andris Klucniks told the court he could not be sure he had signed medical records claiming he had administered midazolam to patients.

Bellhouse, of Kingston Road, Frilford, Abingdon, denies theft of the drug from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between May 1, 2014, and July 8, 2015.

The trial continues.

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