I am accused of risking the lives of 20 babies. I am living in hell; BIRTHS PROBE MIDWIFE BREAKS SILENCE OVER DRUG JEOPARDY CLAIMS Kirsty Stewart yesterday.
A midwife accused of risking the lives of 20 babies at birth has broken her silence after a five-year investigation.
Kirsty Stewart, 49, is suspected of needlessly giving pregnant women a powerful and potentially dangerous drug during labour.
The former Aberdeen Maternity Hospital nurse allegedly administered syntocinon during the labour of up to 20 patients which caused or contributed to bradycardia, the slowing down of the baby's heart rate.
The drug, when used incorrectly, can cause serious complications and death.
Speaking for the first time, the mum of one has told how her life has been ruined by the allegations.
She said: "The past five years have been hell. I have been functioning rather than living. I went into nursing to look after people. I know in my heart of hearts I haven't done anything wrong, I feel I have been let down by the people I put my trust in.
"My life, in a way, has been ruined by all of this. I don't know if I'll ever fully recover."
Kirsty, originally from Glasgow, qualified as a nurse in 1986. She began working as a midwife in 1989 and was promoted to a Grade F, one grade below a sister, in 1996.
She worked at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital on a ward for women who were deemed to be a higher risk of needing intervention during their pregnancies.
But almost a quarter of a century after she qualified, Kirsty found herself at the centre of serious allegations that have cast a cloud over her entire career.
And she has hit out at the quality of the probe which could see her struck off.
Things began to unravel in early 2010.
Kirsty raised an allegation of bullying against another, more senior, member of staff.
Just days later, she was involved in a labour where the mother needed an emergency Caesarean section.
Kirsty, who said she normally saw one or two labours per shift, was the midwife who had started to administer syntocinon.
She said: "One Saturday morning, I had started the syntocinon as per protocol. It is first checked by another midwife, put in a bag, taken to the room, connected to a pump and then to the patient.
"Protocol states two midwives should do it but usual practice was one midwife or whoever was looking after the patient unless it was someone junior or someone who wasn't sure what to do. I had a break, I came back and the baby's heart rate dropped. I stopped syntocinon and informed medical staff. They said to restart the syntocinon but the baby's heart rate dropped again and she had to have a C-section.
"The sister was on that night who I had complained about. She initially removed the bag of syntocinon from the theatre.
"Myself and another colleague removed the pump and sent it to medical physics for examination so they could look at the memory to see what had been administered."
There is strict guidance on the use of the drug, which has to be given at specific intervals. If it is administered too quickly, it can cause foetal distress.
Kirsty was called back to the hospital that night to meet her manager, who had also been summoned to the hospital. She said she was told management felt she had given the woman too much of the drug. But she said her legal team were finally able to retrieve the pump report last year, which showed protocol had been followed.
When she returned for her shift a few days later, she said she was moved to another ward but it was never explained what she was or was not allowed to do.
Kirsty added: "The following Friday, I was asked how I felt about coming into work that night and I said I was stressed.
"I was told in that case, they had no other option but to suspend me."
A couple of days later, Kirsty was told that police had been informed. But she said that was the last she heard from her former bosses. Kirsty said: "For two-anda-half years, no allegations were made against me. The police interviewed me. They contacted the Crown but they decided not to pursue a prosecution.
"In March 2013, I was fired. I was told 'the trend of foetal bradycardia associated with your practice suggested the inappropriate administration of an oxytocic drug'.
"I feel as if I have been accused of attempted murder, knowing the risks of syntocinon - and that is something I can't really get my head around.
"I didn't go into nursing thinking this would ever happen. I went into nursing to look after people. The whole situation is horrendous. I feel sorry for the women who have been put through this. Even if by some miracle, the Nursing and Midwifery Council don't de-register me, no one would ever employ me because the suggestion of the wrongdoing is so big that no one would want me to work for them."
Kirsty was dismissed due to an unacceptably high number of unexplained bradycardia cases.
But she claimed alarm bells started ringing for her long before she was fired.
She said at one point, she was the person who was concerned about the number of women requiring emergency Caesarean sections who came under her care. She added there are no witnesses who say she did anything wrong, nor have the NMC showed the statistical anomaly involving cases of bradycardia is down to her.
She said: "Before any of this happened, I had pointed it out to my mentor, a person you can go to who looks after your professional development.
"She didn't seem overly concerned because sometimes there would be occasions where there would be a lot of emergency C-sections, then sometimes none. Sometimes things happened in runs."
It is understood Kirsty will appear before the NMC on allegations of assault - ranging from October 4, 2007, to March 13, 2010.
An NMC spokesman said a hearing date has not yet been set. He added: "We cannot comment on individual cases."
Her legal representative Graham Mann, of Blackwater Law, said the case is "entirely dependent on anomaly and occurrence with no supporting statistical evidence".
Kirsty said: "I am not guilty. I haven't done anything wrong. I think everybody has the preconceived idea that I am guilty of something that I couldn't, wouldn't and didn't do. It's not in my nature to hurt anybody.
"I feel the case has been built up against me. I feel, after two-and-a-half years, they had to find something to find me guilty of. I feel the NMC have to be seen to be doing something.
"I want to be able to have a life and live a life again. There are two sides to every story. If I hadn't been a good and competent midwife, I am sure I would have been put out of a job or mentored and watched.
"I just want myself and my family to be able to get on with our lives."
NHS Grampian said: "We will not be commenting."
I'm not guilty. It's not in my nature to hurt anybody
CAREER Kirsty when she was working as a midwife
ACCUSED Kirsty is to appear before Nursing and Midwifery Council over charges of assault at maternity hospital Picture Garry F McHarg
PROBE Ultrasound scan of a baby. Syntocinon can cause a foetus distress