A former nurse at Steveage’s Lister hospital who had been practising for almost 30 years has been suspended for 12 months, after she incorrectly administered drugs that had not been prescribed to patients.

Rita Hand, who had been a registered nurse since 1987, was referred to the independent regulator Nursing and Midwifery Council in October 2017, after concerns were raised about her fitness to practice.

A three–person panel from the Nursing and Midwifery Council made the decision to suspend Mrs Hand yesterday – following a review on the six month ban that had been imposed on her in January.

From August 28, Ms Hand will be suspended from practicing nursing for a period of 12 months. She is not currently working and has no plans to return in the foreseeable future as she is caring for family members.

The panel heard how there were persistent concerns about Ms Hand’s failure to demonstrate she could safely administer medication – after two patients were incorrectly given drugs and three further patients were administered strong painkillers without authorisation.

In August 2016, Ms Hand gave Tramadol and Oramorph, two separate but powerful painkillers, to patients when they had not been prescribed to them.

Following these first instances, the East and North Herts NHS Trust placed her under medicines restriction management.

In October 2016, Ms Hand administered IV fluids to a patient without authorisation. She also gave Oramorph to two other patients in March 2017, again without authorisation.

The panel heard that Ms Hand had continued to dispense medication because she had “forgotten” about the restrictions that had been imposed on her.

In one damning paragraph, Ms Hand was adjudged to have: “put patients in her care at risk of harm and these actions brought the nursing profession into disrepute.”

In making their decision, the panel decided that Mrs Hand had demonstrated a lack of insight and remediation, and therefore posed a high risk of repeating her misconduct.

The judgement reads: “The panel is of the view that there is a high risk of repetition based on Ms Hand’s lack of insight and remediation.

“The panel therefore decided that a finding of impairment is necessary on the grounds of public protection.