The revelations during the trial exposed a disturbing "culture of abuse" within the unit. Pixabay

In a harrowing case that has sent shockwaves through the medical community, a nurse has been found guilty of mistreating patients in a hospital stroke unit.

Catherine Hudson, a 54-year-old nurse, was convicted of administering sedatives to patients with the intention of keeping them "quiet and compliant" for an "easy life".

The shocking incidents occurred at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in April 2017 and November 2018. In addition to her direct involvement in patient mistreatment, Hudson was also found guilty of conspiring with a junior colleague, Charlotte Wilmot, 48, to administer a sedative to a third patient.

The case unfolded during a trial at Preston Crown Court, where prosecutors unveiled a disturbing "culture of abuse" that had permeated the hospital's stroke unit. A crucial piece of evidence came to light when police examined WhatsApp messages exchanged between Hudson, Wilmot and other staff members.

During the trial, jurors were presented with a shocking text message from Hudson, in which she bragged about sedating a patient "within an inch of her life" and callously remarked: "Bet she's flat for a week, ha-ha." While Hudson was acquitted of mistreating two other patients, the gravity of her actions was undeniable.

Judge Altham, the honorary recorder of Preston, remanded Hudson in custody following the verdicts, which were reached after nearly 14 hours of deliberation. He stated: "The sentence for Catherine Hudson plainly has to be a sentence of immediate custody. The only question is the length."

Altham also granted bail to Wilmot, who had been convicted of encouraging Hudson to drug a patient, but cautioned her that she, too, was likely to receive an immediate custodial term.

The sentencing of Hudson, a band 5 nurse from Blackpool and Wilmot, an assistant practitioner also from Blackpool, is scheduled for December 13th and 14th. The court will determine the appropriate punishment for their grave misconduct.

The investigation into these appalling acts of patient mistreatment was initiated when a whistleblowing student nurse, on a work placement at the hospital, reported Hudson's suggestion to administer unprescribed zopiclone, a powerful sleeping pill, to a patient.

The student nurse was deeply troubled by Hudson's indifference, who callously mentioned that the patient had a "do not attempt resuscitation" (DNAR) order in place, implying that no efforts would be made to save her if anything went wrong. The administration of zopiclone to acutely unwell patients was potentially life-threatening, as the court learned.

The discovery of WhatsApp messages exchanged between Hudson and Wilmot shed further light on the extent of their misconduct. During the trial, Peter Wright KC, who cross-examined Wilmot, brought to light some of these disturbing message exchanges.

When Hudson suggested the sedation of a patient, Wilmot responded with disturbing levity, saying: "Ha ha yeah sedation we love it." In another conversation about a different patient, Hudson declared: "I'm going to kill bed 5 xxx," to which Wilmot responded with emojis and laughter, indicating a disturbing lack of empathy for the patients in their care.

Hudson defended herself in court, claiming that these text conversations were merely "banter" meant to alleviate the stress of their challenging job. She went on to describe the unit as consistently understaffed to a "completely dangerous level" and stated that medication was "scattered around" and easily accessible to anyone on staff. Hudson shockingly asserted that the "whole ward was corrupt" and claimed that "95 per cent of the staff" would help themselves to medications from the unit.

In the wake of the verdicts, Specialist Prosecutor Karen Tonge expressed her outrage over the nurses' actions, calling them "callous and dangerous". She asserted that Hudson and Wilmot had displayed "utter contempt for patients in their care" and had grossly abused their position and the trust placed in them by patients and their families.

She emphasised that their primary role was to provide care for patients on the ward, but instead, they conspired to mistreat patients, administering sedatives for their own convenience, amusement, or even spite.