Aromatherapy midwives cleared by nursing watchdog

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A MIDWIFE delayed a pregnant woman’s dash to hospital because the patient was due to have an aromatherapy session.

The woman was sleepy and her unborn baby’s heart rate was dropping but Janice Dalrymple failed to summon an ambulance.

Instead, she waited an hour for another midwife trained in aromatherapy to arrive at the Community Maternity Unit at the Vale of Leven hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire.

Midwife Janice Dalrymple delayed a pregnant woman's dash to hospital because the patient was due to have an aromatherapy session.
Midwife Janice Dalrymple delayed a pregnant woman’s dash to hospital because the patient was due to have an aromatherapy session.

The mum-to-be was eventually taken to hospital in Paisley where she needed an emergency section and the baby girl had to be resuscitated, suffering brain damage and multiple organ failure.

According to a report on the incident by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Mrs Dalrymple, 63, received a final written warning from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Trust following an investigation.

The incident, in October 2013, also resulted in a final written warning to the midwife who delivered the aromatherapy, Fiona McClung, 61.

And midwife Pamela Campbell, 49, received a final written warning for failing to assess the patient’s condition.

All three midwives faced charges in front of the NMC last week at a hearing in Edinburgh. Despite the findings of fault and disciplinary action taken by the NHS trust, the NMC decided the trio had no case to answer.

The NMC decided there was little prospect of the midwives’ fitness to practice being impaired because they had apologised and undertaken extra training.

The nursing watchdog said the midwives had previously unblemished records and concluded that “the public interest would not be served by a finding of impairment in your case”.

Aromatherapy was introduced to the unit in 2007. Relaxing massage with essential oils is used to help stimulate contractions.

But the NMC report suggests that in this case the focus on aromatherapy got in the way of the urgent need to give medical attention to the mother and unborn child.

Quoting the findings of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Trust, the NMC report reveals that Mrs Dalrymple stalled the transfer to hospital to “allow aromatherapy to be undertaken by another midwife coming on shift one hour later”.

Mrs McClung, according to trust, then carried out the aromatherapy “without a full assessment and examination of the patient” and failed on several opportunities to “reassess the progress” of the mothers labour.

And Mrs Campbell, according to trust had also “failed to investigate or address why there was no progress of her labour” despite several opportunities.

The NMC said their no case to answer decision on Mrs Dalrymple, who has since retired, was because she had shown “clear recognition and admission of wrongdoing” and had directly apologised to the mother.

The mother, who has not been identified, complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

In a report published last year, which did not name the midwives, the ombudsman concluded that aromatherapy was inappropriate in this case.

The report said “waiting to use aromatherapy contributed to a delay in assessing the progress of labour” and that when the baby was finally delivered the parents were “warned that she had brain damage and multiple-organ failure”.

A spokeswoman for the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Trust said: “We believe the local actions that were taken have given both us and the NMC the reassurance that the safety of women and babies is not in question and that these midwives are fit to practice.

“If we had concerns following our management processes then we would have referred them ourselves to the NMC.”

 
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