Date: 15 May 1948
Kathleen Alice Anderson died from heroin poisoning.
She was a junior sister at Tindal General Hospital and had only started work there five days earlier.
She was found unconscious on her bed on Friday 14 May 1948 and died the following day.
An open verdict was returned at her inquest and it was stated that there was no direct evidence as to by whom the heroin had been administered nor for what reason.
A ward sister at the hospital said that she and Kathleen Anderson had been friends since 1944 when they were training together in London. She said that they decided to try to get posts together and accepted positions at Tindal General Hospital in May 1948 and started there on 9 May 1948.
She said that they were given adjoining rooms and on the evening of 10 May 1948 they discussed their jobs and said that Kathleen Anderson told her that her senior sister was going on leave and that she would be in charge of the ward but had appeared worried about it. She said that she told Kathleen Anderson not to worry about it, but said that the following night she found Kathleen Anderson crying and suffering from a violent headache and said that Kathleen Anderson told her that 'She would never make a nurse, let alone a sister'. The ward sister said that she tried to calm her down but said that Kathleen Anderson told her that she didn't know whether she could cope with it. She said that Kathleen Anderson gradually calmed down and that she put her to bed.
The ward sister said that the following day that Kathleen Anderson still seemed depressed but not as much as the previous day. She said that she was in charge of the ward that day and that during the night she heard Kathleen Anderson tossing and turning in bed as if she could not sleep.
She said that on 13 May 1948 Kathleen Anderson seemed brighter but not her normal self. She said that later, during dinner, Kathleen Anderson was called away to see the mother of a little girl who had died in her ward and said that they later discussed what they were going to do on their day off in the following week and decided to go to Oxford.
The ward sister said that at about 8.50pm she went into Kathleen Anderson's room and found her standing by her dressing table. She said that she asked her how she was and said that Kathleen Anderson replied, 'All right, not so bad today'. She said that she noticed a syringe on a piece of cotton wool on the dressing table and asked Kathleen Anderson what it was doing there and said that Kathleen Anderson told her that she had brought it there by mistake. She said that Kathleen Anderson seemed bright and cheerful and thought that she was probably settling down.
The ward sister said that she didn't hear a sound during the night. She said, 'At 7.10 the next morning the maid brought me my tea and said she could not waken Sister Anderson. I went into her room and found her lying on her back, with her mouth open, and breathing very heavily. Her eyes were half open, and when I opened them, I saw she had pin-point pupils. I tried to waken her and realised it was hopeless and sent for assistance. I looked at her arms and legs for puncture marks but could not see any. I looked for the syringe and found it in a small drawer underneath a brush and comb. The syringe was empty, and I found a needle at the back of the same drawer. I put them in my wardrobe thinking that if she had taken poison, and recovered, no one need know anything about it. The doctors were completely in the dark, not knowing about the syringe, and later I told a doctor'.
She later added that Kathleen Anderson was very highly strung and of a reserved disposition.
A doctor at the hospital said that although every possible treatment was given to Kathleen Anderson, she died at 7.30pm on 15 May 1948.
He said that heroin, in proper quantities, could be used to induce sleep, but added that no heroin had been issued to Kathleen Anderson's ward since February 1948.
A deputy director from the Metropolitan Police Laboratory said that he had examined certain organs from Kathleen Anderson and had recovered four grains of heroin and three grains of phenacetin. He said that the phenacetin was a normal dose for medicinal purposes and noted that heroin was normally administered by a hypodermic syringe and that an average dose would have been from a quarter to one or two grains.
A pathologist at Stoke Mandeville Hospital concluded that Kathleen Anderson's cause of death was heroin poisoning.
see Bucks Herald - Friday 02 July 1948
see Bucks Herald - Friday 21 May 1948
see Dundee Courier - Monday 20 September 1948
see Hull Daily Mail - Monday 03 May 1948
see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 28 September 1948