Nurse who stole drugs from hospital still allowed to work, panel rules

by Charlotte Austen-Hardy

A NURSE who stole painkillers from Basildon Hospital is still able to work after a string of conditions were placed on his medical license.

Ronnie Gutierrez, a staff nurse at Basildon Hospital, was sacked after Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller, went missing.

He was later convicted of theft at Basildon Magistrates Court.

A restrictive order has now been imposed on Gutierrez, who has worked as a nurse since 1981, after a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel decided his fitness to practice was impaired.

The panel, chaired by Narjul Khasru, heard the theft was discovered after hospital staff went to sign out the painkiller for a patient on October 25, 2014, and found a capsule of the drug had already been signed out.

This led to an investigation which eventually revealed 37 suspicious incidents when the drug was signed out under falsified patient names.

The hearing heard Gutierrez was the only member of staff on duty on all 37 occasions.

The panel was also told of about four further incidents where the painkiller was signed out for patients who had died or already left the A&E department.

Despite initially denying the theft, Gutierrez, who has previously worked as a nurse in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Guernsey, later admitted stealing the medication.

He was fined £75 at Basildon Magistrates Court and ordered to pay compensation, a victim surcharge and costs.

Gutierrez has since found a new post in a nursing and residential home.

The panel concluded that the thefts were planned over several months and had become a habit, with patients being put at risk due to being denied the stolen medication.

While they ruled his actions had brought the profession into dispute, the panel allowed him to continue working.

They imposed a 12 month restrictive conditions of practice order on him, meaning he must be supervised by a registered nurse when involved in ordering, accessing, checking, administering and disposing of controlled drugs.

He must also have monthly meetings about the standard of his conduct and performance.

A Basildon Hospital spokesman said: “When the issue of missing medication came to light, Ronnie Gutierrez was suspended from work at the Trust, and the police were informed.

“After making a confession to the police, Ronnie Gutierrez attended a disciplinary hearing and was dismissed from working at the Trust.

“The Trust will always take necessary steps to protect patients and NHS property and refer cases to the police and professional regulatory bodies when appropriate.”

 

Published by: Basildon Canvey Southend Echo

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