Are NHS Staff Vetting Procedures Bad For Our Health?

Victorino Chua, the infamous Stepping Hill Hospital Nurse, was finally convicted on Monday 18th May 2015 of murdering 2 patients and poisoning 19 others with insulin overdoses.

He was given a mandatory life sentence and was told that he must serve a minimum of 35 years imprisonment for these despicable acts, committed back in June/July 2011, before he will be eligible for parole.

The family of Mr Derek Weaver, whose life was sadly taken by Chua, are delighted with the verdict, and have praised the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their handling of this case. However, this can never make up for the bitter loss of their loved one, who was taken in such incredibly sinister circumstances.

With most of the 21 victims or their families seeking damages through their lawyers for the harm and trauma suffered, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust could face a multi-million pound bill in relation to a multitude of clinical negligence claims.

This truly horrific case is highly unusual insofar as Chua had allegedly purchased false nursing qualifications in his native Philippines, and allegedly displayed psychopathic tendencies.

Whilst this raises all sorts of searching questions for Hospital Trusts in terms of their due diligence in the process of selecting and vetting health care staff, the Nursing and Midwifery Council have been quick to assure us all that the incidence of fraudulent qualifications among nurses from outside the European Economic Area is incredibly low.

I am sure that most will agree that it is thankfully a rare thing for such dangerous individuals to infiltrate the NHS front line and the vast majority of NHS staff has only the best intentions. However, a hospital has a duty of care towards its patients and in this case Stepping Hill Hospital failed these victims in a place where they should have been safe.

Neil Crossley, Clinical Negligence Solicitor, Hilary Meredith Solicitors Limited