A former Dundee nurse, who was accused of stealing medication, says there is a “culture of fear” among NHS Tayside staff.
The NHS launched an investigation when medicine went missing from a cancer ward at Ninewells Hospital between July 22 2011 and August 11 2011, after Pauline Maria Ballie, 52, of Maryfield, reported it unaccounted for.
The now-retired nurse who suffers from multiple sclerosis was left stunned when she was then accused of taking them from the hospital’s ward 32.
After three years of “hell” waiting for a “no case to answer” decision from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) last Thursday, Pauline has now come forward to reveal the problems surrounding NHS staff who, she claims, are “frightened” of losing their jobs by raising issues.
She said staff were now afraid to report unaccounted items.
She said: “It seems incredibly cruel that I ended up accused of stealing the medication, when I was the one who noticed it and reported it first.
“I just felt there was a culture of fear about reporting errors, but I wouldn’t stand for that.
“When I noticed some of the medication was missing, I felt an obligation to report it.”
Pauline also claimed the investigation process for NHS staff was not thorough enough after the NMC found that the evidence gathered against her was “tenuous” and “inherently weak”.
She said: “They did a two-week investigation into those who were on duty at the time the medication went missing, but I don’t think they looked at everybody who had access to the keys.
“The worst thing was when I found out I was being accused of taking it I was made to feel like I had no choice but to leave.
“I’ve never been able to get my case across until now.”
NHS Tayside’s associate nurse director, Caroline McQuillian, said: “Patient safety is a priority for NHS Tayside and we actively promote an open and honest culture where staff are encouraged and supported to report incidents and clinical risks at the earliest stage.”