AN NHS nurse took her own life by consuming a large quantity of prescription drugs, a coroner ruled.

Julie Elizabeth Connolly, 45, a staff nurse at Bridport Community Hospital (BCH), was found dead at her home by her neighbour.

An inquest into the death of Ms Connolly heard she took her life by consuming large quantities of powerful pain-relief drugs and opiates after she became ‘increasingly concerned’ following an incident with an elderly patient at work 10 days before her death.

Ms Connolly was found at her home in Chickerell Road, Weymouth, on May 15, 2014 after a neighbour, Susan Lloyd, entered her house after becoming concerned about her welfare.

PC Caroline Orchard from Dorset Police attended the incident and said there was a ‘white substance’ around her mouth when she was found her lying on a bed.

She told the inquest she found a grey bag with several empty blister packs of medication under the bed of Ms Connolly.

PC Orchard said as she continued her investigations in the house, she found a large quantity of empty pain-relief and also opiate medication packets.

A post-mortem of Ms Connolly’s body was carried out by Mark Deverell at Dorset County Hospital on May 19, and in his report said he found high levels of pain-relief drugs in Ms Connolly’s system.

He concluded she died as a ‘consequence of opiate and Tramadol toxicity’.

The inquest heard Ms Connolly had become ‘increasingly worried’ after an incident at work, in which an elderly woman fell in a toilet and fractured her hip on May 4, 2014 when she was the nurse in charge.

The woman was transferred to Dorset County Hospital and died a few days later.

Ms Connolly was concerned about an upcoming investigation about the incident, the inquest heard.

A statement from Jane Turner, matron at Bridport Community Hospital, was read out, which said that in the days leading up to May 14, Ms Connolly had been off work due to illness.

Ms Turner added that the elderly lady had ‘mobilised herself’ to the bathroom before the fall and the investigation would be just ‘routine’ at the hospital.

Rosemarie Pickton, Ms Connolly’s mother, read out a statement in which she said she had spoken to the neighbour who found Ms Connolly, Ms Lloyd, who said she had been speaking to Ms Connolly about the work incident.

She said that Ms Connolly was worried about it and her mood was getting ‘lower and lower’ in the days before her death.

Recording his verdict, the coroner for Dorset Sheriff Payne said: “As a nurse, she would have known more than anyone the affects of taking excess medication and on the admittance of this, she did it deliberately and that was the cause of the death.

“I have to record a verdict of suicide, she did take her own life.

“She was excessively worried about the incident at work, but the witness statements I have read just state it’s standard hospital routine.

“She clearly took this incident to heart, which affected her emotions and stability.”