A CARE worker wept as she told a disciplinary hearing how a nurse ignored pleas to call an ambulance for a heavily bleeding elderly patient.
Alison Cochrane appeared before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh to face charges relating to her time as a care home nurse between 2009 and 2013.
The charges include a claim that she “failed to call an ambulance promptly” for an elderly patient in November 2013.
Mrs Cochrane is said to have described the woman’s condition as “the worst she had ever seen” but she called NHS 24 rather than 999.
A witness claimed this delayed the ambulance by 35 minutes.
The charges relate to Mrs Cochrane’s time working as a staff nurse at two South Ayrshire care homes – Fairknowe House in Maybole and Queen’s Care Nursing Home in Prestwick.
The hearing took evidence from Margaret Kirk, a team leader at Queen’s Care.
She described how – during a night shift in November 2013 – a resident at the care home had “taken not well” at around 6am.
She said that she was called down from her floor to assist, but found that Mrs Cochrane was in the duty room, “on hold to NHS Direct” instead of assisting the patient and calling an ambulance.
Ms Kirk said Mrs Cochrane told her that the elderly patient’s condition was “the worst she had ever seen”.
She recalled how Mrs Cochrane “said that she was vomiting what looked like black stuff”.
She said Cochrane admitted she “was worried” because, “in her words, she was coughing up blood – it was coming from all ends.”
But according to the witness Mrs Cochrane did not call an ambulance despite being told to twice by Ms Kirk – even after she had raised her voice in distress.
According to the witness, this resulted in the emergency services eventually arriving some 35 minutes later than they should have.
Ms Kirk, her eyes filling with tears, said: “I don’t think that was appropriate”.
“Alison should have taken my advice, I know the residents.”
The witness also related how another colleague told her that Mrs Cochrane had refused to enter the room with the patient, saying “I don’t do sick”.
Mrs Cochrane also faces a charge that she left medication for patients to self-administer at Fairknowe House.
Rosemary Coupland, manager at a care home owned by the same company, said she investigated the matter in 2013.
She said: “[She would] dispense medication, trust this person had taken the medication, go back and check they had taken it and check the medicine pot was empty.”
She said this was “not acceptable”, adding: “You’ve got a responsibility to make sure that these practices are done correctly – you’re in charge of people’s lives.”
Mrs Cochrane denies all the charges and her lawyer, Scott Flannigan, put it to Ms Kirk that much of her evidence depended on “hearsay”. She replied: “Yes.”
Mr Flannigan also questioned Ms Kirk about her claim that the ambulance took 40 minutes to arrive compared with the normal five. He suggested it could have arrived in as little as 10 minutes. Ms Kirk denied this.