A NURSE who claimed she stole bottle of morphine after a colleague encouraged her has been let off with a caution by a disciplinary panel.
Tracy Buck pinched the powerful painkiller while on duty at the Broom Lane Care Home in Rotherham in January 2014.
She admitted the theft at the Nursing and Midwifery Council after initially denying the charge and insisting she meant to return it.
Buck, who was dismissed after the theft, also dishonestly held herself out to be a practising nurse at an NHS hearing last August after she had been suspended by the NMC.
After ruling her fitness to practise was impaired last November a panel and handed Buck a three-year caution order.
NMC panel chairman Alan Harris said: “This was a prescription drug that was marked to be destroyed and therefore was not to be given to any patient.
“You were deputy manager in a privileged position, able to access such medications, and that your action was an abuse of your position of trust.
“The panel did have regard to your exceptional personal and health circumstances which contributed to the theft but it concluded that this did not excuse your actions.”
The nurse, who has almost 20 years experience, said she put the bottle in her desk drawer because she did not have a key to the medication room and later took it home.
The hearing was told Buck and a colleague were destroying medication and the co-worker had encouraged her to “take this one” as she had a back problem.
She said: “To be honest I took it home because I was just so tired, I did want to take it, I admit.
“When I admitted I had done it I couldn't bear to say the word ‘steal’.
“I couldn’t say it because I was so ashamed, it was stupid and irresponsible and dishonest.”
Buck was reported by a colleague, suspended and appeared in court in April 2014 to admit stealing the bottle.
Several months after the incident, she gave the impression she was still a practising nurse at an NHS funding appeal hearing for a patient, despite being suspended at the time due to the ongoing investigation into the morphine incident.
Having suspended Buck in the intervening period since November 16, the panel decided last week that the most suitable punishment would be a three-year caution order.
“Such a sanction will not restrict your ability to practise but will mark your behaviour as unacceptable, therefore satisfying the public interest,” said panel chairman Alan Harris.