In­com­pe­tent bosses al­lowed ‘ma­tron’ to drug pa­tients and rule wards

Daily Mail - - News - By Chris Brooke

AN all-pow­er­ful nurse who may have mur­dered up to 20 pa­tients with painkilling drugs was al­lowed to flout rules at will by in­com­pe­tent hos­pi­tal bosses, an of­fi­cial re­port re­vealed yes­ter­day.

Anne Grigg-Booth in­tim­i­dated col­leagues and was ‘ef­fec­tively in charge of the hos­pi­tal’ dur­ing early hours when few doc­tors were about and tar­get-ob­sessed man­agers had no idea what was go­ing on.

The night nurse prac­ti­tioner was charged with the murder of three el­derly pa­tients af­ter il­le­gally pre­scrib­ing and in­ject­ing pow­er­ful painkilling drugs as if she was a qual­i­fied doc­tor.

But po­lice be­lieve she may have killed many more dur­ing her 25 years work­ing at Airedale Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Keigh­ley, West York­shire.

Grigg-Booth also faced an at­tempted murder charge and 13 counts of un­law­fully ad­min­is­ter­ing poi­son to 12 other pa­tients but was never brought to trial be­cause she died from a drink and drugs over­dose at her home in 2005 at the age of 52.

Man­age­ment of the hos­pi­tal was also con­demned by the in­quiry find­ings. A ‘club cul­ture’ ex­isted in the se­nior hos­pi­tal ranks and pro­tected author­ity fig­ures such as Grigg-Booth from crit­i­cism.

The fear is that other mem­bers of the nurs­ing staff may have been ‘bul­lied’ into adopt­ing her bad habits and fol­lowed her in­struc­tions to give banned in­jec­tions. Grigg-Booth her­self treated man­age­ment ‘ with con­tempt’ and was ‘not sub­ject to ef­fec­tive su­per­vi­sion’. Poli­cies de­signed to act as safe­guards were ig­nored and pa­tients placed at risk as a re­sult.

The nurse was sus­pended and po­lice called in af­ter a rou­tine au­dit iden­ti­fied mal­prac­tice by Grigg-Booth in Jan­uary 2003.

She was later charged with mur­der­ing June Driver, 67, Eva Black­burn, 75, and 96-year-old An­nie Mid­g­ley. She was also ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to murder Michael Parker, 42. How­ever, po­lice said these were ‘spec­i­men’ of­fences and the ex­tent of her to­tal crim­i­nal be­hav­iour could have been far greater.

Five years ago she was branded the ‘An­gel of Death’ af­ter be­ing ac­cused of be­ing a hos­pi­tal se­rial killer. But the in­de­pen­dent in­quiry came to a very dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion. The re­port con­cluded Grigg-Booth was ‘not a Beverley Al­litt’ [the nurse who mur­dered four chil­dren in hos­pi­tal in the early 1990s]. ‘We think it is un­likely that she de­lib­er­ately set out to harm pa­tients,’ the re­port stated.

But it added: ‘She was ut­terly con­vinced of her own clin­i­cal

prow­ess; we have no doubt that on oc­ca­sions she went well be­yond the bound­aries of ac­cept­able nurs­ing prac­tice at that time and be­yond the bound­aries of her own clin­i­cal un­der­stand­ing.’

She was recog­nised as a ‘hard work­ing, ex­pe­ri­enced and car­ing nurse who could be re­lied on in a cri­sis’ yet she broke the law by pre­scrib­ing ‘opi­ates’ her­self with­out check­ing with doc­tors and broke hos­pi­tal rules by giv­ing the dan­ger­ous drugs ‘in­tra­ve­neously’ and on the ‘ver­bal or­ders’ of doc­tors.

Al­though in some cases where pa­tients died Grigg-Booth failed to com­plete the pa­per­work de­tail­ing her

‘Oc­ca­sions when we cross fine line’

ac­tions, the in­quiry found she recorded most of what she did in charts and files, sug­gest­ing she was not in­tent of killing pa­tients.

Night nurse prac­ti­tion­ers were in­tro­duced to re­duce the work­load of ju­nior doc­tors. Grigg-Booth was the most se­nior and pow­er­ful of the four NNPs at Airedale. All the NNPs, as well as other doc­tors and nurses, mis­un­der­stood the rules and be­lieved they had greater author­ity in re­spect of the use of painkilling drugs than they ac­tu­ally did.

But Grigg-Booth be­lieved she was in con­trol of the rules af­ter dark. In­deed, all ju­nior doc­tors on in­duc­tion days were given the book­let A Guide for Staff who Work at Night which was writ­ten by Grigg-Booth her­self.

An in­di­ca­tion of her at­ti­tude to­wards con­sult­ing doc­tors can be found in the book­let. It reads: ‘There are many oc­ca­sions when we “cross the fine line or grey area” be­tween nurs­ing and med­i­cal du­ties, but will only do so in the in­ter­ests of ef­fec­tive pa­tient care.’

The of­fences she was charged with oc­curred be­tween 2000 and 2002. By July 2002 she had be­come an al­co­holic, the re­port re­vealed.

She also ru­moured to be ad­dicted to painkilling drugs her­self. She fre­quently at­tended the ca­su­alty unit as a pa­tient and told the nurses to have di­amor­phine ready. On one oc­ca­sion she even in­jected her­self and on an­other her hus­band, also a hos­pi­tal nurse, pres­surised med­i­cal staff into giv­ing her med­i­ca­tion.

The in­quiry team found a ‘com­bi­na­tion of in­di­vid­ual and sys­tems fail­ure.’ Two other NNPs were dis­ci­plined and down­graded, an­other took early re­tire­ment, a man­ager was sacked and an­other man­ager re­signed.

They re­fused to given an opin­ion as to whether Grigg-Booth would have been con­victed by a jury had she not died. Ed­die Kin­sella, a mem­ber of the in­quiry team, said Grigg-Booth ‘shouldn’t be de­monised’ for her ac­tions as she ‘rea­son­ably be­lieved’ she was act­ing legally in the way she did her job, but there was ‘con­fu­sion’ about what se­nior nurses were al­lowed to do.

How­ever, he added: ‘We don’t di­min­ish the grav­ity of what took place.’

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