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Walk-in nurse struck off for handing out addictive medication.

Byline: KATIE DICKINSON Reporter katie.dickinson@reachplc.co

ANURSE who dished out "large quantities of strong and addictive medications" to patients at a walk-in centre as well as falsely prescribing morphine to use herself has been struck off.

Joanne Phelan prescribed drugs including codeine and diazepam to patients with minor aches and pains at the Ponteland Road and Battle Hill walkin centres.

The walk-in centres provide a service for minor illnesses and ailments, with nurse practitioners expected to re-direct patients to other services, such as their GP or A&E if necessary.

A disciplinary panel heard that nurse practitioners at a walk-in centre "would not normally be expected" to prescribe anything stronger that paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Phelan " then prescriptions But over six months doing shifts at the centres in 2017, the panel heard Phelan inappropriately prescribed drugs including naproxen, doxycycline, amitriptyline, diazepam and codeine to more than 10 patients.

obtain for her She was also cautioned by police for committing fraud by false representation after generating prescriptions for morphine sulphate at work for her own use.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel heard that on one occasion Phelan, who was employed via Amber Care Agency, prescribed 100 15mg tablets of codeine to a patient who came in complaining of facial pain.

A witness statement from the centre's team lead nurse practitioner (referred to as 'Ms 1') described this as "a huge quantity" of codeine.

A report of the hearing said: "Ms 1 states that this is because codeine is an addictive drug and long-term use (defined as more than a few days) needs to be monitored by a doctor.

"She states that she would expect any qualified nurse prescriber to recognise that this quantity of codeine would have the potential for side effects such as addiction, constipation and drowsiness and that it would not be appropriate to prescribe this amount of codeine at a walk in centre."

The panel heard Phelan prescribed the same patient 56 10mg tablets of amitriptyline - a "very strong drug used for nerve pain" which is "addictive and can cause nightmares and affect sleep patterns".

The report said: "Ms 1 states that amitriptyline requires ongoing monitoring and, for this reason, it is inappropriate to prescribe it in a walk-in centre where there is no provision for this. Ms 1 also states that if Patient C's pain was so severe as to require this medication then that should have been an indication that her condition was too serious to be dealt with at the walk-in centre and she should have been directed to the 111 service or A&E for treatment."

admitted using these to morphine " The panel was also told that Phelan generated four prescriptions for morphine sulphate - "a very strong and highly addictive controlled drug" which should "under no circumstances" be prescribed by a nurse practitioner in a walk-in centre.Phelan was also cautioned by Northumbria Police in September 2017 for obtaining medical prescriptions during working duty committing fraud by false representation.

own use" A police interview transcript showed she had generated prescriptions for morphine sulphate at work, printed them, and then deleted them from the system on four occasions. Phelan "admitted then using these prescriptions to obtain morphine for her own use", it was said.

The report said that Phelan had "expressed remorse" and "provided some limited evidence of difficult personal circumstances and her own health issues at the time".

But the panel ruled that she should be struck from the nursing register.

They said she deliberately abused her position as a nurse prescriber for her own benefit and put patients at serious risk of harm.

Phelan "admitted then using these prescriptions to obtain morphine for her own use"

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Ponteland Road health centre, Cowgate
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2019
Words:623
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