Family of elderly hospital patient defrauded by Hartlepool nurse call for lessons to be learned

The son of an elderly hospital patient whose nurse used his bank card to commit fraud says lessons need to be learned.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:55 am
Leanne Wallace hides her face as she leaves Teesside Magistrates Court. Picture by Frank Reid.

Leslie Rushworth, 84, from Seaton Carew, was being cared for at Stockton’s University Hospital of North Tees when nurse Leanne Wallace used his card to pay off loan debts and buy things for herself after taking it from his wallet.

Mr Rushworth, known as Les, moved into a hospice not long afterwards and died.

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Les Rushworth was a much loved grandad of four but his health declined during the pandemic.

The case was sent to the crown court as it was felt the magistrates’ court did not have sufficient sentencing powers.

It has now been confirmed she is also the subject of disciplinary proceedings by the hospital trust.

A spokesperson for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “Patient safety and security is always our number one priority.

"We are saddened by this case and are currently following the formal disciplinary policy with the member of staff.”

Mr Rushworth’s son, Guy Rushworth, says hospital bosses need to learn from the case to prevent it happening to anybody else.

He said: “North Tees need to learn from this. They need to implement changes to ensure this can’t happen again.

"You should be able to go in there with a Rolex watch on your wrist and a wallet full of notes and they’re just interested in making sure you walk out that door alive.”

The trust said all patients are asked if they have high value items on them when they are admitted to hospital to be logged and safely secured.

It added it is always the patient’s decision what to disclose and they advise whenever possible that patients do not bring high value items with them to hospital.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard Wallace, of Challoner Road, Hartlepool, used Mr Rushworth’s card to buy wallpaper, household items, order things from Amazon and pay back a personal debt.

At the time he was ill and being treated for pneumonia, anorexia and general deterioration.

He was a granddad of four and widower.

He had also been an accomplished pianist and had played alongside comedy double act Cannon and Ball when they were called the Harper Brothers.

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