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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Nurse tells of 'victimisation'
Kathleen Atkinson
All criminal charges against Kathleen Atkinson were withdrawn
A nurse who was investigated by police following the deaths of four patients has told a tribunal why she thinks her employers were wrong to sack her.

Kathleen Atkinson, 52, spent three months in prison during the investigation before the case against her was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Ms Atkinson, from of Stadium Villas, Wallsend, North Tyneside, is claiming unfair dismissal against Newcastle Hospitals Trust.

She was sacked in 1996 from the intensive therapy unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), when colleagues told managers she had withdrawn drugs from terminally-ill patients.

Night shift

At the employment tribunal on Tuesday, a senior consultant said he remained convinced the nurse had "hastened" the deaths of patients.

But Mrs Atkinson said she was "devastated" by the allegations made against her.

At the tribunal in Newcastle on Wednesday she admitted giving an extra dose of morphine without a doctors authority to one patient who then died.

But she said this was common practice during night shifts when doctors, who needed to sleep, allowed nurses to make such decisions on their own.

She said: "I feel as though I have been victimised, lost my employment in a previously unblemished career, imprisoned and the subject of abuse from families of the deceased, to say nothing for the anguish that these families have suffered.

"All because a fair and thorough investigation was not carried out."

Life sentences

She also claimed the hospital investigation into what happened was not thorough, and that some potential witnesses who could have defended her were not interviewed.

Mrs Atkinson also said that one manager at the hospital told her that her case "stinks of Beverley Allitt".

That was in reference to the nurse from Lincolnshire who is currently serving 13 life sentences for murdering and attempting to murder patients.

Mrs Atkinson said this comment led to the RVI becoming more interested in the allegations rather than the facts

The hearing continues.

'Nurse hastened patients' deaths'
01 Apr 03  |  England

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