Warning signs about Allitt 'overlooked'

BAD management of health services seriously short of funds enabled Beverly Allitt to attack children she nursed, a health workers' union told the inquiry into her murders.

Unison, whose members include a majority of Allitt's nursing colleagues at Grantham and Kesteven District Hospital in Lincolnshire, said warning signs were overlooked or ignored.

Allitt was known to have incurred self-inflicted injuries and feigned illness while a student at the hospital. Her frequent absences should have been investigated, and her family doctor asked if she was suitable for appointment as a nurse.

If a full and alarming psychological profile of Allitt was drawn, it was either unavailable to hospital management, or lost in a stretched management structure.

By several criteria, she was unfit to begin work as a nurse. Hospital authorities made 'a serious error of judgement' when they recommended Allitt for employment.

Allitt, 25, was sentenced last year to 13 life sentences for the attacks, including four murders. She is detained at Rampton special hospital in Nottinghamshire.

The union said Allitt's employment, and her recommendation by a tutor, could be explained only by staff shortages on the children's ward where she began work in February 1991. Unison's evidence, given in private to the inquiry chaired by Sir Cecil Clothier QC, focuses blame for Allitt's 58 days of attacks on events beyond the control of medical staff on the ward.

The Clothier report, which is due to be published this month, is expected to criticise four individuals - the hospital's two consultant paediatricians, Nelson Porter and Charith Nanayakkara, the nursing manager, Moira Onions, and the ward sister, Barbara Barker.

Leaked extracts of the draft Clothier report made scapegoats of the four, according to their colleagues and advisers.

Unison's evidence, which has been seen by the Independent, claims neither Mrs Onions nor Sister Barker wanted to appoint Allitt. Adult wards also refused to give her a job, and the children's ward gave her only a short contract.

'One pressure which appears to have weighed on Sister Barker in accepting Mrs Onions's decision to appoint her is that the staff had been complaining of short-staffing and Allitt was presented as, at least, 'a pair of hands',' Unison told the inquiry.

'The total number of nurses on duty at any one time gave Allitt opportunities to damage children which she may not otherwise have had.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games