Euthanasia Trial Nurse Is Caring, Says Doctor; `I Always Regarded Her Highly'

Article excerpt

Byline: RON QUENBY

AN NHS nurse alleged to have tried to kill off elderly patients in a ruthless efficiency drive was yesterday described as ``professional and caring'' by the Clinical Director of Medicine at the hospital where she worked.

Dr Maxwell Winson, who has been Leighton Hospital in Crewe for more than 25 years, told Chester Crown Court that Barbara Salisbury ``did not suffer fools gladly'' and was forthright at times,but that did not detract from her being a good nurse.

Salisbury,47,of Leeswood, North Wales,but originally from Liverpool,denies attempting to murder four patients in 1999 and 2002,either by pumping them full of potentially lethal doses of the pain killer diamorphine or starving them of oxygen as they lay on her ward.

Appearing on behalf of the defence in the trial,Dr Winson,a consultant physician and specialist in respiratory medicine, told the jury he had reviewed the medical notes on the case of 92-year-old retired mechanic Frank Owen,of Nantwich, Cheshire, who is alleged to have been left ``on the verge of death'' by a diamorphine injection.

Referring to Mr Owen's last day alive, whenSalisbury gave him two injections,he said: ``I concluded there was not a problem on that day.''

He added: ``The diamorphine doses were as prescribed,and the frequency between individual doses was as prescribed. They were relatively small doses.''

Dr Winson was asked by the police to make a statement during the investigation into Salisbury's work at Leighton Hospital.

At their request,he looked at Mr Owen's notes. He himself had examined the patient as an emergency admission after a suspected minor stroke on January 3, 2002.

The prosecution has also claimed that Salisbury ordered a junior colleague to lay Mr Owen in a position where he would choke to death, saying:``Lie him flat. With any luck his limbs will fill with fluid and he will die.''

But Dr Winson said: ``Some patients who one would think would be more comfortable upright are actually more comfortable lying flat. …