A senior nurse who took nearly £2,000 from a Birmingham Children's Hospital trust fund for sick children faces being banned from the profession.
Sara O'Brien (56) paid donations from drug companies to the haemophilia unit at Birmingham Children's Hospital into a trust fund - which the hospital was unaware existed - she controlled.
She took out £500 in cash and wrote cheques to herself totalling another £781. O'Brien wrote cheques totalling £202 for 'petty cash' and spent another £472 on taxi rides for herself after she was banned for drink driving, a disciplinary hearing was told yesterday.
The nurse, who was a specialist at the unit, admitted misconduct at a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but insisted all the money had been spent helping the children in her care. The panel is expected to decide today if her fitness to practice is impaired and may strike her off the nursing register.
Counsel for the NMC Neil Millard said: "When asked the purpose of the £500 withdrawal on 4th June 2004, she said she needed the money for Christmas presents for children on the ward."
O'Brien returned the £500 to the hospital, saying she had kept it in a locked drawer ready for Christmas six months later. Of the £781 in cheques to herself, he said: "The registrant does not recall the purpose of these cheques."
O'Brien began taking the money in 1996, when she was given control of a trust fund called the Aureon Haematology Fund, which had been set up by the grateful parents of an ill child.
She was caught out in August 2004, when nurse manager Sue Ellis noticed a junior nurse's training trip had been paid for out of the fund.