Midwife struck off register after misconduct

A midwife who engaged in lengthy court proceedings more than a decade ago to prevent An Bord Altranais stopping her assisting at home births has been struck off the nursing board’s register.

The board’s fitness to practice committee found that Ann Ó Ceallaigh was guilty of professional misconduct over her role in a home birth in 2007, after which the baby died.

No allegations were made that the midwife was responsible for the infant’s death.

The committee found 10 different allegations against Ms Ó Ceallaigh proven, including that she failed to comply with An Bord Altranais guidelines for midwifes relating to home births and emergency situations, and failed to adequately carry out resuscitation on the baby.

It ruled that the midwife had failed to discuss with the mother circumstances that would cause her to recommend consulting another medical professional or a transfer to a maternity hospital, particularly during the course of her labour on Apr 18-20, 2007.

Other allegations proven included the midwife’s failure to diagnose and take appropriate actions for abnormal progress of the woman’s first and second stages of labour, and her failure to communicate relevant information about the child’s birth to staff at a maternity hospital.

The decision to erase Ms Ó Ceallaigh’s name from the register of nurses was recently confirmed by the High Court.

In Dec 2011, Ms Ó Ceallaigh lost a Supreme Court challenge against the decision by An Bord Altranais to launch an inquiry into allegations of professional misconduct against her.

Ms Ó Ceallaigh, of Temple Crescent, Blackrock, was investigated on foot of concerns raised by the Coombe Maternity Hospital about the management of the mother’s labour.

It was not the first time she clashed with the profession’s regulatory body. Ms Ó Ceallaigh won a separate case against An Bord Altranais back in 2000.

It left the nursing board with a legal bill estimated at more than €1.5m over its failed attempt to seek a court order to restrain her from practising.

The Supreme Court found that the board’s fitness to practice committee had not followed fair procedures on that occasion in initiating an inquiry into Ms Ó Ceallaigh.

An Bord Altranais originally secured an injunction restricting Ms Ó Ceallaigh from practising as a midwife in 1997, despite the fact that no allegations had been made against her by any patient.

However, the injunction was subsequently relaxed to allow individual expectant mothers to seek her services. The midwife delivered about 60 babies in the three-year period before the case was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.


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