A nurse with diabetes has been awarded almost £40,000 by an employment tribunal after she was sacked from a GP practice for taking drugs from the surgery to avoid a “hypo”.

Clair McCluskey was fired from her job as a practice nurse at the Armadale Group Practice in Bathgate where “doctors took paracetamol from stocks and it was not an issue of concern”.

The tribunal judge said it was “astonishing” that Ms McCluskey had been dismissed without being referred to regulators, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The nurse was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17 and was also a patient at the surgery.

The surgery was aware of her condition and that it had led to her being admitted to A&E in December 2020.

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She told the tribunal she recognises when she is at risk of hypoglycemia – when blood sugar levels drop too low – and takes fast-acting sugary snacks or glucogel, which is made up of glucose and water.

She said that in previous jobs she had made use of the drugs available in her workplaces when necessary and that “there were never any issues with her employers”.

She said she used glucogel from the surgery’s stocks when she did have any of her own supplies with her and “she never made any secret of this”.

The tribunal was told that at no point prior to disciplinary proceedings being instigated was she told she should not use any medicinal supplies from the practice for her own use.

The surgery did not have a policy regarding staff use of medicinal supplies such as plasters, bandages, and paracetamol during working hours and did not give any guidance to staff.

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Between January 26 and 28 January 2021 an issue arose with a fridge at the surgery containing vaccines to be administered at a child vaccine clinic.

The issue related to the temperature of the fridge and resulted in the clinic being cancelled.

The tribunal was told that this also resulted in six children receiving immunisations “that should have not been used”. 

One of the other practice nurses, Susan McGuire, had a discussion with Dr Ali from the practice and said in her view it was the responsibility of the claimant. 

She did not suggest that she or the other practice nurse who were involved had any responsibility.

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At the same time, she informed the doctor that the nurse had used glucogel from a trolley “which had been created by him for emergency use”.

He contacted another doctor – Dr Dalglish – and said that he had informed the nurse that this was “inappropriate”.

He said he had also been informed that she had not taken action when she discovered there was a problem with the fridge where vaccines were stored.

The nurse was suspended by letter on February 9 “pending an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct”.

During the subsequent investigation she apologised for taking the medication but said she had “never been told off” and said: “I’ve seen GPs taking paracetamol from the cupboard in the treatment room – what is the difference?” 

The investigation found that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Ms McCluskey was solely responsible for the vaccination error.

However, she was dismissed for taking glucogel, which the surgery said amounted to gross misconduct.

Tribunal judge Amanda Jones said it was deeply concerning that the practice had dismissed Ms McCluskey without alerting the NMC and said the investigation by the practice was “fundamentally flawed”.

She said: “The respondent had a duty to investigate the motivations of the claimant and whether she had been dishonest.

"They did not do so and instead characterised her conduct as premeditated and dishonest, although there was no evidence to suggest that she had ever tried to conceal her use of glucogel.”