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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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‘My career’s over,’ claims cleared Cumbrian children’s nurse

A children's nurse says the career she has loved for almost 20 years is over after three years of hell fighting to clear her name.

Melanie Riley photo
Melanie Riley

Related: Cumbrian children's nurse accused of 'shattering' families' hopes

Melanie Riley was told she is now free to return to work with an unblemished record by a panel sitting at the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London last Thursday.

The 48-year-old said the last few years had left her emotionally scarred and unable to function because she knew she was innocent.

She said the one error she made – that she gave incorrect advice about the paracetamol dosage for a baby – had happened three days after her father died.

The qualified nurse said the case should never have gone as far as it did.

The hearing was told how Miss Riley was working for Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust as a WellChild community children’s nurse where she covered Barrow, Ulverston and Millom.

On February 28, 2011 she was suspended from her duties pending an internal investigation after it was alleged that on October 28, 2010 Miss Riley was providing care for a seven-and-a-half-week-old baby and that the advice about paracetamol dosage given by Miss Riley was incorrect as this was a dose to be given post-vaccination, while the baby was pre-vaccination.

The panel concluded that it had been a genuine error on her part and did not amount to misconduct.

Miss Riley was cleared of a string of allegations – including dishonestly completing reports knowing the information she was giving about a patient’s condition was inaccurate but intending it to be relied upon – said to have taken place between November 2009 and February 2011.

Miss Riley said she often felt excluded and her role misunderstood at work.

She said: “They suspended me with immediate effect. Over the next few weeks I was instructed of a couple of more counts.

“In the April I was invited and attended an investigation hearing with Russell Thompson, clinical governance lead.

“I attended my disciplinary hearing in August – all charges of gross misconduct were upheld with the exception of one for misappropriation of records.

“I was informed a few days prior to my disciplinary a referral had been made to the NMC.

“I was then re-instated as in mitigation serious management failings had been identified. Then I was offon long-term sick until my contract was terminated on March 2, 2012.

“My contract was terminated on the back of this investigation and my career in children’s nursing in Cumbria ended.”

She added that the whole of last week’s hearing was like watching car crash TV.

Miss Riley added: “Personally, by Wednesday I had the impression that everyone in there was getting fed up. At the end I was completely exonerated.

“This has had a devastating effect on me and my family and friends. Based on a document full of opinions my career as a children’s nurse ended.

“I made one error in nearly 20 years, three days after my father died. I can’t work, I can’t function. I haven’t been very well and developed anxiety.

“I’m nothing like the person I was at all. I am really, really glad it is all finally over but very, very sad that my career as a nurse is over.”

As well as working in South Cumbria, Miss Riley, who lives near Milnthorpe, was employed at Baycall and A&E departments in London as a paediatric nurse.

She added: “I am now going to take a few days to myself and then start looking at the jobs market.

“All I ever did was try and get the best services for the children in the area and help with their needs.”

A spokesman for Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, which employed Miss Riley, said: “We conducted a confidential investigation into her practice and passed this to the NMC.

“We accept the findings of the panel. Ms Riley no longer works for the trust.”

The funding for her post was provided by charity WellChild, which aims to support the families of sick children.

Before the hearing, WellChild chief executive Colin Dyer said: “All our nurses are funded by the charity but employed by the local health authority who hold responsibility for the recruitment, management and overall governance of the roles.

“While we cannot comment on this hearing, we can say that the nurse in question was employed by the trust as the WellChild children’s nurse in Cumbria when we first allocated funding to the trust in 2009.

“In 2011 she was removed from the post. The charity worked closely with the trust to recruit an outstanding replacement who has been filling this crucial role since 2012.”

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