Royal Derby Hospital nurse Sally Messer 'high on morphine' she had stolen from the intensive care unit
A NURSE who turned up for work at Royal Derby Hospital high on morphine she had stolen from the intensive care unit has been struck off.
Sally Messer arrived for her shift slurring her words and unable to keep her eyes open, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.
Colleague Jennifer Bland said in a statement: "She was unable to construct full sentences and was also unable to provide me with adequate information in relation to a patient.
"I did not believe that the way she presented herself was just due to being tired as I had never seen anybody act like she was before."
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The hearing, in London yesterday, was also told that a patient noticed Messer's behaviour and asked: "She's not well, is she?"
Messer was later found slumped over a desk.
Anne Johnson, assistant director of nursing at Royal Derby, conducted an internal investigation into the nurse's actions and found she had been taking the opiate Oramorph – a morphine-based painkiller.
She has already been convicted of fraud and theft over the offences.
Ms Johnson told yesterday's hearing: "Sally explained in detail that she had obtained the Oramorph from the drugs cupboard on the intensive care unit, as she had possession of the keys as staff nurse.
"Sally explained that the Oramorph was easily accessible as it was not stored in the controlled drugs cupboard on the unit and therefore she did not need a second nurse to accompany her to remove it.
"Sally said that she put the two bottles of 100ml Oramorph in a bag, stored it in her locker and took it home after the end of her shift."
The NMC panel ruled the nurse's actions amounted to misconduct and ordered that she be struck off the nursing register.
Panel chair Jacqueline Mitton said: "Ms Messer dishonestly stole two bottles of Oramorph and attended for work in an unfit state, which could have compromised patient safety.
"The panel had no hesitation in concluding that Ms Messer's conduct fell far below the standard expected of a registered nurse and amounts to misconduct which is serious.
"Ms Messer's actions, in particular by attending for work in an unfit condition, had the potential to cause harm to patients.
"The panel concluded that Ms Messer has breached fundamental tenets of the profession.
"Because of her actions, Ms Messer's integrity can no longer be relied upon.
"Furthermore, Ms Messer has failed to comply with the law and has failed in her duty to uphold the reputation of the profession at all times."
On July 25 2011, the nurse was convicted at Derbyshire and South Derbyshire Magistrates' Court of six counts of fraud by false representation.
She was found to have dishonestly claimed at pharmacies that she was entitled to collect prescriptions for patients.
She was also convicted of one count of theft for having stolen a prescription pad from the hospital between March 1, and March 18, 2011.
Messer, whose address was not given out during yesterday's hearing, was sentenced to a one-year community order with a supervision requirement and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
A spokeswoman for Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust said last night it was aware of the case and was preparing a full statement after reviewing the file.