Stressed nurse had forged prescriptions
UNABLE to cope with family pressures, a nurse working at a GP surgery in Somerton forged prescriptions for her patients in order to get a supply of drugs to use herself.
Helen Lisa Townson gained access to the personal computer records of patients registered at the surgery in West Street and printed out fake prescriptions for hundreds of tablets at a time.
She tried to cover her tracks by deleting the records of the prescriptions afterwards in order to feed her addiction to codeine-based painkillers.
She was eventually caught out after staff at the Ilchester Pharmacy noticed she was often tense and nervous when she came in to collect the prescriptions saying she was doing it on behalf of her patients.
When she appeared before Somerset Magistrates they were told that the 42-year-old nurse, who had an exemplary work record, had since been dismissed from her position.
She had also been suspended from practice by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and were told it was unlikely she would ever work as a nurse again.
Townson, of Esmonde Drive, Ilchester, pleaded guilty that between March 2, 2012 and January 24, 2013 at Somerton she committed fraud, that while occupying the position of practice nurse, she dishonestly abused that position intending to make a gain by accessing computerised records and produce NHS prescriptions for Codeine Phosphate tablets for herself.
Christine Hart, prosecuting, told the court at Yeovil that Townson used the computerised access to patients records to produce NHS prescriptions on eight occasions, each time for hundreds of painkillers.
"When she was interviewed by police she admitted making the prescriptions for codeine phosphate and then deleted the records afterwards," she said.
"The total value of the tablets was only £120 but there was a significant breach of trust involving a number of different patients."
Defending solicitor Jeremy Wickham said the offences occurred when Townson was not coping well with difficulties in her personal life.
He said his client had asked for time off work but that had been refused and she was juggling the pressure of a job with looking after her family.
He added that she had since been referred to Turning Point and had been getting help with coping strategies.
The magistrates sentenced Townson to a 12 month community order with a supervision requirement. She was also ordered to pay £120 compensation to the NHS along with £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.