A NURSE who stole codeine from a North-East hospital has been struck off.

Rachael Louise Hird was caught stealing the drug from the University Hospital of North Durham after suspicious colleagues marked codeine packets with a UV marker pen, a disciplinary hearing heard.

The strips of marked codeine were later found in her make-up bag during a search of her home.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has now decided to strike her off the nursing register following its investigation of the thefts, which happened in August and September 2017.

Their report said: "The panel considered that Miss Hird's behaviour was fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the register.

"The panel was of the view that Miss Hird's actions were serious and to allow her to remain on the register would undermine public confidence in the profession."

Miss Hird had been employed as a bank nurse by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) when it was noticed medication was going missing from two wards at the Durham city hospital.

Miss Hird was identified as the only member of staff with access to the drugs on all four occasions. The pharmacy then marked a strip of codeine, which was later found at Miss Hird's home, after the missing medication was reported to police.

During an interview, she admitted stealing a number of boxes of codeine, including from A&E, as well as using another person's details to get prescriptions on six to eight occasions.

According to the NMC's report, Miss Hird was arrested on suspicion of fraud in November 2017 after she called a GP surgery in Consett, using someone else's details to request a prescription for dyhydrocodeine and naproxen

During a disciplinary hearing in December 2017, Miss Hird said: "I know what I have done is wrong and I am just sorry I have let the trust down and my managers. I made a big mistake and I am sorry for that."

The panel said it had been given some information about Miss Hird's health and personal circumstances which may have affected her at the time of the incidents but said her actions involved a "significant departure" from the standards expected of a registered nurse.

Their report added: "The panel considered Miss Hird was in a position of trust, where as a nurse, she was responsible for providing safe and effective care to patients.

"It is considered that she abused this position of trust by taking large quantities of medication whilst she was on duty in a clinical environment."

A spokesperson for CCDFT, said, “We thoroughly investigate allegations of wrongdoing and take action as necessary, in the interests of our patients.”

No further police action was taken.