A nurse who stole a “substantial” amount of medication from a hospital has been struck off the nursing register by a disciplinary panel.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council found that Gemma Hancock, a specialist nurse based at Papworth Hospital, had been taking codeine from hospital stores without permission and, as a result, her fitness to practice was impaired.

The disciplinary panel heard that the removal of tablets came to light in April 2014 when a nurse discovered three empty packets of codeine between the Baron, Duchess and Princess Wards.

According to the panel, it was "immediately identified that Ms Hancock had that day requested the keys to the drugs trolley" and that she had made "a number of similar requests to access the keys of the drugs trolley in recent months".

A stock audit was carried out at the same time and it was found that there had been a "substantial increase" in orders for codeine phosphate and dihydrocodeine at the hospital in the previous six months.

A meeting was called by the ward matron during which Ms Hancock initially denied taking the codeine and left.

But, after a short period, she returned to the meeting and subsequently admitted having taken the medication.

The panel noted: "Following a period of absence from work, Ms Hancock submitted her resignation from the trust in October 2014."

David Collins, legal advisor for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, told the panel: "Although there was no evidence of patient harm caused by Ms Hancock's actions, by her dishonesty, she had brought the nursing profession into disrepute and breached a fundamental tenet of the profession."

In making its decision, the panel said Ms Hancock had abused her position and that there had been a "pattern of dishonesty" over a prolonged period. As such, the panel ruled that she should be struck off. She was given 28 days to appeal.