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14 September 2011, 17:15
Rebecca Leighton, the nurse accused of tampering with drips at Stepping Hill Hospital has been told she can return to work but only if her employers agree to certain terms.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council made the ruling after criminal charges against her were dropped.
The 27-year-old nurse spent more than six weeks in custody after she was accused of tampering with saline solution at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. The charges were dropped on September 2.
The NMC ordered an interim suspension after her arrest which was reviewed by a panel sitting in London today.
The panel reached its decision after hearing how Miss Leighton had admitted stealing opiate-based drugs.
Panel chairman Dr John Unsworth said:
'We would be minded to impose conditions of practice on her.'
These are likely to include restrictions which prevent Miss Leighton carrying keys to the hospital's drug store, the panel said.
She could also be subject to geographical limitations which mean she is only able to work within a designated area, the NMC said.
Ms Leighton smiled at her lawyer as the panel set out its decision.
Earlier Salim Hafejee, outlining the case against her, told the panel she had admitted stealing drugs and the 'reasonable inference' was that she was taking them for her own use.
He went on to cite the case of killer GP Harold Shipman, who was addicted to pethidine, another opiate-based drug.
Mr Hafejee said:
'One hesitates to bandy around the name of (Harold) Shipman too regularly but you will be aware of the impact of professional dependency on drugs and the perception that it creates.'
Shipman, from nearby Hyde, was convicted in 2000 of murdering 15 of his patients but is believed to have killed many more.
However, Miss Leighton's lawyer Paul Rooney said there was no evidence that the drugs were for personal use.