Dublin midwife accused of poor professional performance

Midwife subject of fitness to practise inquiry over treatment of nine women

Ms McGarrity has indicated she considers the allegations against her as vexatious. File photograph: iStock

Ms McGarrity has indicated she considers the allegations against her as vexatious. File photograph: iStock

 

A Dublin nurse and midwife has been accused of poor professional performance over her treatment and care of nine pregnant women including her failure to be able to operate baby resuscitation equipment during a difficult birth in 2015.

A fitness-to-practise hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) on Friday was told that Brenda McGarrity, also known as Brenda Lawrence, had been the subject of complaints by her employer which had resulted in her facing 13 allegations of poor professional performance and a failure to comply with her professional code of conduct.

They included two incidents where she allegedly failed to adequately set up resuscitation equipment for newborn babies and another of failing to monitor a foetal heartbeat for an adequate period.

In one case, Ms McGarrity is accused of claiming she had performed a clinical emergency during a delivery in November 2015 and notifying the National Maternity Hospital about the incident, when she knew it was untrue as the baby had been born without complications.

She was accused of communicating in an unprofessional and inappropriate manner with two clients including one case where she took blood pressure against a patient’s will and also instructed her to get out of a pool when not clinically necessary.

One complaint related to her failure to carry out regular monitoring of the foetal heartbeat and the mother’s temperature.

The FTP hearing was told that Ms McGarrity had also experienced difficulty in conducting a heel-prick test on another baby.

It was also alleged that Ms McGarrity failed to keep adequate records about the care of three other women as well as making inappropriate comments about a colleague and a client to one of her superiors.

Ms McGarrity referred to one woman who had made a complaint against her as “miserable and poisonous” who would not want her medical history dragged into the public arena if she tried to sue the midwife.

Counsel for the NMBI, Nessa Bird BL, said if the allegations are proven, Ms McGarrity would have posed a risk to patients’ care and brought the profession into disrepute.

Ms McGarrity, of Castleheath, Malahide, Co Dublin, who has not practised as a midwife since 2016, did not attend the hearing and was not legally represented.

Ms Bird said the midwife had informed the board earlier this year that she was awaiting surgery and wanted the FTP hearing to be deferred but then did not respond to further contacts.

She said Ms McGarrity had indicated she considered the allegations against her as vexatious.

The hearing was told that the midwife claimed she was being bullied and the subject of malicious complaints because she had taken a Workplace Relations Commission case against her employer.

In one email, Ms McGarrity replied that her blood pressure was so high that she was at risk of having a stroke.

The complaint was made by UK Birth Centres, the parent company of Private Midwives Ireland (PMI), the Santry-based firm which employed Ms McGarrity between April 2015 and June 2016.

It claimed it had concerns about her clinical competence, record keeping, communications and a failure to ensure she had adequate training.

Clinical abilities

Dr Linda Bryceland, PMI’s director of midwifery, gave evidence she knew of Ms McGarrity from the UK when they both worked at the Wirral Teaching University Hospital when she was responsible for dismissing the midwife after she was convicted for tax credit fraud.

Despite being apprehensive about rehiring Ms McGarrity given her history, Dr Bryceland said she gave her another chance with PMI as she never had any clinical concerns about her before.

Dr Bryceland said it became clear after she started an initiation period that the midwife had not completed the training courses that she had claimed at her job interview.

She expressed shock at how many serious clinical concerns also arose shortly afterwards about Ms McGarrity.

She said a number of midwives raised concerns about Ms McGarrity’s clinical abilities.

The witness told the FTP hearing that she was pleased to have been made aware that Ms McGarrity had dealt with a shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder is trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone) during a live birth on November 3rd, 2015 as she had been concerned that she would be able to perform key skills during an emergency.

However, she was subsequently informed by another midwife that it had been a normal birth.

After the incident, Dr Bryceland said she arranged training for Ms McGarrity but the midwife never attended the course.

Dr Bryceland said Ms McGarrity had repeatedly threatened to resign when concerns about her clinical competence and conduct were raised.

She told the hearing that the midwife had also accused her of bullying and made a complaint about her to the NMBI.

A PMI midwife, Elizabeth Halliday, said she became concerned about Ms McGarrity during a “fairly straightforward” potential resuscitation when she appeared “quite panicked and quite frightened.”

Ms Halliday said the midwife had not reacted in the way one would have expected with the experience she claimed she had.

She was “shocked and surprised” that Ms McGarrity admitted she never had neonatal resuscitation training.

The hearing was adjourned until a future date.