A NURSE employed by The Bradford on Avon & Melksham Health Partnership has been struck off indefinitely after stealing a large quantity of prescription drugs from her practice and consuming them when on duty.

At a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council on May 5, it was found that Jacqueline Cooper stole 100 Tramadol tablets in July 2016, consumed Tramadol while on duty, stole an unknown quantity of Co-Codamol between 2014 and 2016 and retained two patients’ surrendered Tramadol for her own use.

In February 2016, the partnership’s dispensary manager advised the managing partner that a quantity of Tramadol, a strong prescription painkiller, was unaccounted for.

Following this concern, the manager identified a further five occasions when the drug was unaccounted for. Further reports of missing Tramadol and Co-Codamol, which is a mixture of codeine and paracetamol, continued throughout April and in May.

In June 2016 the partnership management decided to install CCTV covertly in the dispensary.

On July 29, 2016, the manager was again alerted that Tramadol was unaccounted for. Her and the dispensary manager viewed the CCTV footage and observed Cooper taking a box of Tramadol and placing it into a pharmacy bag.

On the same date, Cooper was interviewed by the manager and initially denied taking any Tramadol, but when informed that there was CCTV footage, she admitted that she had been responsible for the theft.

She then admitted to the manager that she had been taking drugs from the dispensary for around two years on and off and that she had taken both Tramadol and Co-Codamol for her own use – before admitting that she had kept two patient’s surrendered Tramadol, also for her own use.

Cooper accepted that she had abused her position of power and that her actions put patients at risk, before admitting she was left “crippled” by the fact she initially lied to her colleagues.

She qualified as a nurse in 1981 and passed her Advanced Practitioners degree in 2014, after which she started working as an advanced nurse practitioner.

This role included conducting 10-minute appointments with patients with a range of acute health issues, which she said she found “incredibly stressful”, which made her feel anxious.

She informed the panel that she thought taking Tramadol at work would calm her down. It did not have this effect but did help her get through the day, she said.

The panel was of the view that other health professionals would consider her actions to be "deplorable" and "the opposite of what is expected of a registered nurse", adding that her actions amounted to "serious misconduct".

In the report it states Cooper "put your patients at real risk of harm".

A spokesman for Bradford on Avon practice said: “The practice has sought appropriate advice and is following the required process; therefore we are unable to provide a comment at this time.”