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Worker suspended for stealing germs

A scientist has been suspended after she managed to steal potentially lethal germs from a hospital laboratory.

Jennifer Bainbridge, from Kenton in Newcastle, took the bacteria found in E coli and MRSA from North Tyneside General Hospital, where she worked.

The 28-year-old claims she was suffering from depression and took the microbes in order to harm herself, but then changed her mind and confessed to managers.

She has now been suspended from the register of the Health Professions Council for 18 months.

The council’s ruling stated: “The removal of pathogenic micro-organisms with the intention of using them for self-harm, as alleged in this case, is a matter for grave concern.”

A Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said: “We have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with problems staff may experience in the workplace.

“These have been developed and agreed in partnership with staff side representatives and they ensure our staff are dealt with in a fair, reasonable and consistent way.”

She added: “In this case Trust policies and procedures were followed, occupational health support was given and adjustments to working life were made in order to support this person through difficult times.

“We will not however compromise the safety of our patients, staff or members of the public. The removal of pathogenic organisms from the laboratory was a serious breach of trust.”

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Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust