Two year suspension agony over as midwife is cleared of all charges

A Moray midwife who has spent the last two years under suspension amid allegations that she went against Health Board guidelines has been cleared of all charges.

Lynne Ritchie, 46, had already served for 17 years working at the maternity unit in Dr Gray’s Hospital when she was suspended in May 2013 accused of using equipment she was not fully qualified to operate.

Grampian NHS suspended Mrs Ritchie despite the fact that no mother or baby had been harmed by any of her actions.

Now these actions have been supported by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), who last week ruled that she had acted at all times in the best interests of her patients, adding that Mrs Ritchie “was and still is a very skilled midwife”.

The case came about from a night duty in 2013 when Mrs Ritchie undertook a ventouse (vacuum) delivery at the Moray hospital without supervision. The NHS Grampian investigation that followed revealed further allegations dating back to 2011.

After being cleared after an eight-day public hearing by the NMC, Mrs Ritchie told a P&J reporter: “I am profoundly disappointed in the supervisory structure which brought these allegations against me.

“I felt I was being judged by supervisors with little actual clinical experience – I hope my case is used as an example, so midwives are treated fairly in the future. Dr Gray’s has an excellent unit and I am pleased to return to the team.”

The NMC findings were that Mrs Ritchie had made decisions that were reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances she faced at Dr Gray’s, and that she had always acted in the best interests of her patients.

The action taken in suspending Mrs Ritchie was described by Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, as “heavy handed and tortuous”.  He said: “Mrs Ritchie is a well known and respected midwife at Dr Gray’s but her life has been turned completely upside-down for the past two years with this excessively heavy handed, tortuous and lengthy investigation.

“I question how this matter was allowed to get to the point it did given the circumstances where no mother or baby was harmed and no complaint was received.  All I hear from constituents is praise for Mrs Ritchie and her colleagues for what they do.  Thankfully, she can now put this horrible experience behind her and get back to doing what she does best.”

NHS Grampian has reserved comment on the case until they had studied in detail the NMC’s findings.

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