Nurse apologises for ‘appalling’ text messages about patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

  • Granada Reports journalist Tim Scott reporting from Preston Crown Court

A nurse accused of ill-treating her patients has apologised for sending "appalling" text messages about them.

Catherine Hudson, 54, is alleged to have drugged patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for her "own amusement" and an "easy life" during work shifts.

The mother-of-three also targeted a number of her alleged victims if she disliked them or their relatives, prosecutors say.

Hudson, and co-accused Charlotte Wilmot, 48, also exchanged a number of Whatsapp messages which revealed a "culture of abuse" on the unit, Preston Crown Court was told.

In one message, Hudson wrote: “I sedated one of them to within an inch of her life lol. Bet she’s flat for a week haha xxx.”

In another she said: “If bed 5 starts he will b getting sedated to hell pmsfl (p***ing myself f****** laughing) .”

Giving evidence Hudson apologised for the messages, and admitted her behaviour had been "appalling".

But she said, her behaviour towards her patients was 'devoted'.

She told the court: “I would say my behaviour in private was appalling, absolutely appalling, and I can do nothing but apologise for my behaviour in terms of the text messages.

“My behaviour towards patients and families was nothing but with care and devotion.”

Hudson said she wanted to work in the specialist area of treatment after her father became unwell following a number of strokes.

She qualified as a nurse in 2010 and “loved” her job at Blackpool Victoria.

Hudson said: “It was just fulfilling. To see a patient through a journey following a stroke… and to see them through their rehab stage and then hopefully see them leave with their families.”

Her barrister, Mark Rhind KC, asked: ”Do you understand that some people reading these messages and how you refer to people may raise an eyebrow that you found your job fulfilling and enjoying?”

Hudson replied: “I understand, yes.”

The offences are alleged to have taken place at Blackpool Victoria Hospital between 2017 and 2018. Credit: PA Images

Asked if there were occasions when she did not enjoy her job, Hudson said: “It was very difficult at times.

"The lack of staff was absolutely appalling to a completely dangerous level.

“Terrible understaffing, three trained nurses for 40 patients.”

Jurors heard her employment was terminated in May 2020 and the Band 5 qualified nurse expected to be struck off following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

Hudson, of Coriander Close, Blackpool, has admitted the theft of medicine and conspiracy to steal medicine from the hospital.

She denies ill-treating four patients and stealing another medicine, Mebeverine, intended for an end-of-life care patient.

Fellow nurse Wilmot of Bowland Crescent, Blackpool, denies encouraging Hudson to sedate one of those patients.

Both defendants have also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to ill-treat another patient.

The alleged ill-treatment offences are said to have taken place between February 2017 and November 2018.

Hudson told the court there should be a minimum of six Band 5 nurses “on the shopfloor” and also at least six healthcare assistants during shifts.

Asked how long understaffing was an issue, she replied: “For as long as I can remember.

“It caused very high levels of stress for the staff. When patients are very unwell they need your attention and individual care, and when there are not enough staff to do it then it can become very upsetting and stressful on a daily basis.

“You felt demoralised.

“I personally gave the best care I could despite being run ragged.”

She said she had reported her concerns to management.

Hudson said: “I still enjoyed the job because you had your group of people that you could offload to, but I used to go home and cry.”

They pair are also said to have targeted some patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital if they disliked them or the patients’ relatives. Credit: PA Images

She admitted she had a dark sense of humour which she shared with staff and patients at the workplace.

The defendant said: “I look back and appreciate it’s not everyone’s type of humour, As far as I am aware the nursing staff around me and the patients liked it.

“Stroke patients can be incredibly low in mood and there is no harm in having some humour with them to and try and make things a little bit brighter. Obviously not with critically unwell patients but to patients who are getting better I felt humour was part of their recovery.”

Mr Rhind asked: “We know that you used very blunt language in messages talking about sedation, why?”

Hudson replied: “It’s wrong when your read them in the cold light of day, but between two people it didn’t seem wrong.

“At the time it eased some of the pressures we were under as staff and there are considerable pressures that the public are unaware of.

“If the nurses don’t have the same type of humour to get through some tough times, mentally you can’t do it.”

The trial has heard that the drugs regime on the unit was “dysfunctional”.

Hudson said drugs were “scattered around” the unit and freely available to nurses, doctors, ward managers, patients and relatives.

She said that “probably 95% of the staff” would take medication from the unit and some used them while on duty.

Hudson said the theft of drugs from the unit was “not a secret”.

She told the court: “I tried to report it and the answer was ‘there is nothing I can do Cathy because we would all be in trouble’.

Eventually she “regrettably” joined in by taking home medication, she said.

Hudson denied the purpose was ever to sell them on for a profit.

She said: “I can’t justify it now. The only answer I have got is that it was commonplace.”

The trial continues.