A NURSE has been suspended from working for nine months after taking morphine-based drugs meant for A&E patients while on duty.

Sally Jennifer Davies, who was employed as a mental health liaison nurse at Airedale Hospital at Steeton, had already lost her job, but was given the suspension by the Nursing and Midwifery Council after the allegations were found against her.

Mrs Davies was accused of taking a controlled drug from a locked cupboard in the hospital's Accident and Emergency department without permission, then consuming it while on duty, for three days running on August 31, September 1 and September 2, 2012.

The drug was the morphine-based strong painkiller Oramorph.

She also faced a charge of dishonestly altering a prescription that had been issued to her, by adding a request for 'Dihydrocodeine 30mg x 20 take four daily', a strong opioid painkiller, then presenting the prescription to staff at the Hussain Dispensing Chemist on or about September 19, 2012.

She was suspended from the nursing register ahead of the hearing in which a panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found the allegations against her and decided to impose the suspension order.

Giving evidence via telephone to the two-day Conduct and Competence Committee hearing, held in London, Mrs Davies said she took the Oramorph so she could "continue to work and treat her patients".

She told the panel her health condition was "particularly bad" between August 31 and September 2, 2012 and "on reflection she should have declared herself unfit to work because of it".

But she did not do this as she was the only experienced member of her team due to work at the A&E.

Mrs Davies added she did not have her own medication with her as she was not returning home each evening but instead staying with her family who were on a camping trip.

The nurse, who now has the right to appeal the decision, had been employed by Bradford District Care Trust, the body which provides mental health services for people in Bradford, Airedale and Craven.

The NMC report said: "The panel was satisfied that Mrs Davies' dishonest behaviour was neither persistent nor covered up, but that it was a lapse of judgement at a time when her health was causing her difficulties and she was under considerable pressure at work.

"She expressed genuine remorse for her actions and had learnt from her experience and that there was a negligible risk that her misconduct would be repeated.

"Her actions, as set out in the charges as proved, amounted to misconduct of a very serious nature.

"Mrs Davies' actions took place within a three-week period in an otherwise unblemished career of over 13 years."