Nurse accused of secretly administering drugs at Stockton care home must wait to learn fate

Darlington and Stockton Times: Victoria House Care Centre Victoria House Care Centre

A NURSE accused of administering drugs in jelly babies and jam sandwiches faces a four-month wait for a decision on the future of her career.

Janet Foster ran a 20 bed ward at Victoria House Care Centre in Stockton where nearly all the residents lost so much weight in one month they "bore no resemblance" to their medical file photos, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Former colleague Jason Gates was so concerned about medication being hidden in food and drink he risked his career to report her to bosses.

"Mr Gates not only witnessed this but he took part in it and admitted it in the investigation into Ms Foster," said Amanda Hamilton, for the NMC.

"This appears to have resulted in his suspension and dismissal."

Foster told the hearing she gave out jelly babies after medicine and mixed some medication into custard, but did not hide or secretly administer tablets.

At the time the home was run by Darlington-based Southern Cross, which collapsed last year. Victoria House is now under new ownership.

Susan Lowe, a service quality inspector, said: "Jam sandwiches with medication in were given to patients without it being explained to patients what was happening and if they understood.

"Ms Foster also had a jar of jelly babies under her desk she could use to covertly administer medication."

Of 17 patients on the ward, 15 lost a significant amount of weight between November and December 2009, it is alleged.

Foster denies a catalogue of charges including failing to ensure patient medication records were maintained and failing to prevent residents losing weight.

She also denies failing to make adequate referrals to GPs and dieticians over the weight loss.

Ms Hamilton added: "The patients suffered from violence with each other, from weight loss, from an inability of choice, from fear and the loss of mobility."

Foster further denies instructing staff to administer medication to residents covertly in their meals and/or with their sweets.

She denies the remainder of the charges including one alleging that she refused to allow residents to watch a singer's performance at the home.

Foster was dismissed from the Bath Lane home in March 2010.

The hearing was adjourned until April 16 next year when the panel will decide if the allegations have been proved.

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