Midwife who smelled of booze struck off

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Breaking news

A MIDWIFE has today been struck off the nursing register for misconduct.

Chesterfield resident Susan Hewitt was found to have turned up at a home birth – after the father had delivered his daughter alone then helped her start breathing – while smelling of alcohol and under the influence by The Nursing and Midwifery Council.

She also failed to visit the mum for an initial assessment while she was in established labour and inappropriately told her to call back “when the pain became unmanageable.”

The morning after she attended Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s central delivery suite while smelling of alcohol.

Hewitt denied all charges but the panel found they were proved, were misconduct and impaired her fitness to practice.

Chairman James Spencer, in making the sanction, said: “Her behaviour indicated a serious departure from the relevant standards as set out in the code (of conduct).

“There would also be a continuing risk to patients from the risk of repetitive behaviour by Susan Hewitt of such behaviour if she was to remain in practice.”

Hewitt has the right to appeal the striking off order. An interim suspension order is in place.

Over the three-day hearing the conduct and competence committee heard that Hewitt – a former employee of Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – behaved oddly on February 20 2008.

Before attending the birth she bizarrely spoke about having to put her kittens away in a spare room.

Once at the Chesterfield home, her hands were apparently shaking so much when giving the newborn baby an injection that the parents feared the needle would snap.

It was also claimed she was giggly, made strange noises and was “unprepared” for various procedures.

The panel heard that cough syrup and alcohol hand gel were mooted as possible reasons for the smell.

Ian Brown, case presenter, said: “If hand gel left a smell it seems the entirety of the NHS would be under investigation for smelling of alcohol.”

Hewitt did not attend the three-day hearing and was not represented although she submitted documents.

The panel heard she claimed the mum had said she did not need to attend during the initial phone call.

She also said in later meetings with bosses that she would never drive or work after drinking alcohol as she had lost a relative during a drink-drive accident.

Her behaviour was an isolated incident and described as “out of character”.

Hewitt took early retirement after the incident and is now understood to be running a business.

For more on this story see next week’s Derbyshire Times.

By Ellen Beardmore