Nurse struck off after medical panel told of Hawick man’s death

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THE mother of a young Hawick man who died while in the care of staff at Castle Craig Hospital at Blyth Bridge seven years ago has welcomed the decision that a nurse involved in the treatment of her son will be struck off the medical register.

Kieran Nichol was only 20 when he died in December 2005 at the hospital which specialises in drug rehabilitation treatment.

Two years ago a fatal accident inquiry heard how Mr Nichol had been admitted to Castle Craig on Friday, December 9, 2005, and was then found dead at about 8.25am the following Sunday.

The cause of death was the combined effects of the prescribed drugs methadone and benzodiazepine, and unprescribed temazepam.

Calling Mr Nichol’s death a tragedy, Sheriff Gordon Liddle found reasonable precautions could have been taken whereby his death might have been avoided. The sheriff also listed defects in systems of working that, he said, contributed to the tragedy.

And at the end of last week, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) conduct and competence committee in Edinburgh struck off nurse William Wood after hearing evidence and deciding his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his misconduct.

The hearing panel heard that Mr Wood had failed to ensure a second signature was recorded in the controlled drugs record book when methadone had been administered to Mr Nichol; failed to carry out an assessment of his blood pressure, pulse and respiration; failed to seek medical assistance from the duty doctor; and failed to either carry out any observations of the patient or ensure observations were undertaken.

All the charges, except one, against Mr Wood, who was not present at the hearing and was represented by his solicitor, were found proved by admission.

However, Mr Wood did not admit misconduct nor did he admit that his fitness to practise is impaired.

The panel heard oral evidence from one witness called on behalf of the NMC, namely Dr Margaret McCann, hospital manager and medical director at Castle Craig.

There were no criminal proceedings brought against any nursing or other medical staff as a result of Mr Nichol’s death, although Mr Wood was dismissed from his job at Castle Craig for gross misconduct following the fatal accident inquiry.

The dead man’s mother, Jacqueline, herself a former nurse, has spent the past seven years battling to uncover the truth about her son’s death.

Mrs Nichol was in Edinburgh for last week’s hearing, sitting through the entire day of proceedings on Thursday.

“All I wanted was for the truth to be told and people to be held accountable,” she told TheSouthern this week.

“It has taken seven years to get this far, but you can’t force people to tell the truth. In the past seven years I have had to learn about the law and about forensics to help me better understand the situation.

“Kieran was treated in a way I don’t believe any human being should be treated.”

And Mrs Nichol denies she has been on any kind of witch hunt.

However, she added: “But we need people in these sorts of places who care and where money does not come into the equation.

“Nothing can change what happened to Kieran – I have lost a son and my other children have lost their brother.

“But standards need to be changed for the future.”