A NURSE at the Countess of Chester Hospital has been suspended for six months after she turned up for work drunk.

Catherine Hampson, 38, arrived almost an hour late for her shift on the critical care unit on May 5 last year, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) committee heard.

Aware that she had been struggling with “difficult personal and health-related circumstances”, the ward manager accepted her explanation for being late.

However, Mrs Hampson was witnessed laughing inappropriately while discussing patients with colleagues and it was later noticed her hand-written notes were “large and untidy”.

“She [the ward manager] also noted your words were slurred and your pupils were dilated,” the NMC Conduct and Competence Committee report states.

“[She] then questioned you... and you admitted to having been drinking into the early hours.” 

Mrs Hampson, from Rhyl, was suspended pending an internal investigation and was told to call the police and advise them she had driven to work while under the influence. She was found to be almost three times the legal limit and was convicted of drink driving at Chester Magistrates Court on May 25 last year.

In its report, the NMC panel states: “By attending work under the influence of alcohol you abused your position of trust and your actions put vulnerable, high-dependency patients at serious risk.

“By driving to work, under the influence of alcohol, you put fellow road users, the public and yourself at risk of harm.” 

It continued: “The panel recognised that you have engaged with the NMC and made full admissions. You gave the panel a heartfelt account of the difficult personal and health circumstances you had been facing and the action you have taken to address and effectively manage them.” 

Mrs Hampson had 28 days from June 16 to appeal against the panel’s decision.