Lois Rogers

Journalist and Communicator

Nurse who took her own life, Anne Grigg-Booth, is another victim of Graseby syringe scandal, says son

Health

A nurse who killed herself after being accused of murdering her patients was the innocent victim of the Graseby syringe scandal, her son said yesterday.

Will Booth was 19 when his mother, Anne Grigg-Booth, took her own life, unable to cope with the trauma of being accused of killing at least three of her patients.

But The Sunday Times can reveal today that the hospital where she had worked for more than 25 years used the controversial “dangerous” Graseby syringe drivers.

Grigg-Booth was largely exonerated by a panel of experts in 2010, five years after her death, which found the nurse had not “set out to harm” her patients at Airedale General Hospital in West Yorkshire, where she had worked for 25 years.

She had been charged by police with murdering three of her patients, June Driver, 67, in July 2000; Eva Blackburn, 72, in November 2001; and Annie Midgley, 96, who died in July 2002.

Unable to bear the pain of the false accusations, Grigg-Booth who lived in Nelson, Lancashire, took her own life in 2005.

Speaking to The Sunday Times on Friday night, her only child, Will Booth, now 32, said his mother had been “a scapegoat for everything that was wrong at the hospital”.

Booth, who runs a building company near Keighley, West Yorkshire, said: “Everyone said what was said about her was complete lies. She was a scapegoat for everything that was wrong at the hospital. I know what happened wasn’t her fault. She had worked at the hospital for my whole life. I never heard a bad word said about her. They all said how good she was, how professional she was.”

Booth, who has three young children aged 9, 6 and 18 months, said he has tried his best to carry on with his life since her death, to make his mother proud.

He said: “She had never had depression before but she must have been covering up how she felt. The first I knew that she had died was when the police came round. I had moved out [from home] a year before. I just switched off to everything after that.

“I loved my mum. I know she would be happy now and at peace, but always think about her when I’m by myself. I’m not feeling sorry for myself — I want to make her proud. She would want me to be strong and carry on, but I would like to see the record put straight.”

The 2010 report into his mother’s actions found she and other nurses had been giving unlawful intravenous opiates since the mid-1990s but they “all reasonably believed they were permitted to do so”.

Although the inquiry found hospital managers “knew or should have known what was going on, they did nothing about it”.

No hospital managers were directly blamed for their part in the use of the syringe drivers, or for the deaths.

The report says Grigg-Booth was given her responsibilities as part of an effort to save money on junior doctors. Her manager was never interviewed by the investigators.

This weekend, an Airedale hospital spokesman confirmed the devices in use were the Graseby syringe drivers. Stacey Hunter, chief operating officer at Airedale, said none of the managers involved at the time were still working at the hospital, so it was not possible to comment on the methodology of the report or its conclusions.

Mary Harrington, a former geriatrician at the hospital, said: “I wouldn’t even trust the management there to organise the proverbial event in a brewery.” She refused to sign a gagging agreement when she left the hospital after 15 years in 2008.

Airedale hospital remains in the spotlight with the latest Care Quality Commission report saying it continues to require improvement.

Written by Lois Rogers