Midwife at St John’s Hospital ‘invented’ patients

St John's Hospital. Pic: Ian Georgeson
St John's Hospital. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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A MIDWIFE ‘invented’ expectant mothers so she could close her labour ward to new admissions - and enjoy “a quiet night”.

Margaret Marin’s “shocking” dishonesty meant the normally busy ward was needlessly closed to pregnant women for more than five hours.

It meant a neighbouring maternity unit that was struggling to cope with its workload could not transfer patients to Ms Marin’s ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian.

The scam was only spotted thanks to an alert doctor at another hospital who realised the medical records of the invented patients did not make sense.

Andrew Gibson, a lawyer with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said: “We don’t know what would have happened that night if it wasn’t for that doctor raising the alarm.”

Ms Marin was sacked by NHS Lothian and charged by the NMC following the May 2012 scandal.

The 54-year-old chose not to appear at the hearing in Edinburgh this week but admitted entering false information for four patients and that her behaviour was “dishonest”.

Mr Gibson, who presented the case for the NMC, said that an investigation by the hospital had found that Ms Marin had failed to put patient care first by not realising the risks involved with her “fraudulent behaviour”.

He said: “She falsely entered the data onto the hospital floor plan system, which can seen by all hospitals in NHS Lothian, making the ward look busier than it actually was.

“The ward was not as busy as she was trying to make out.”

Mr Gibson added: “It was simply a case of wanting to give her staff a quiet night. She has admitted that her conduct was dishonest.

“She failed to see how her actions may have impacted on the women and the care that they would have been able to receive.

“She lost sight of her overriding duty of care to patients on a misguided wish to give herself and her staff an easy ride.

“She had an early opportunities to come clean and she chose not to take those early opportunities.”

Mr Gibson said the maternity unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh was dealing with two high-dependency cases that night and wanted to transfer pregnant women to St John’s.

“There was clearly some concern coming from the ERI just as to what the situation was,” said Mr Gibson.

“It was only resolved when a doctor noticed discrepancies on the medical records of the patients that were apparently at St John’s hospital.

The hearing was also told that in correspondence with the NMC, the midwife had cited issues to do with health and stress as a cause for her actions.

Mr Gibson said Ms Marin had previously been a “good nurse”. But he said the investigation showed “no indication that she was under any level of stress that would have affected her actions”.

He added: “There is no evidence of the risks to the women leading to any actual harm.”

In an email to the NMC, Ms Marin, from Edinburgh, wrote: “I will not attend any more hearings about this case.

“Not because I don’t wish to face up to my responsibilities but because I have no question about what the outcome will be.”

Margaret Watt from Scotlands Patients Association said: “I am absolutely gobsmacked - that really is shocking.

“If a nurse who has the responsibility of being in charge of a ward wanted a quiet shift, then she is in the wrong service and she should work elsewhere.

“It’s not acceptable that a doctor from another hospital had to pick up the slack - someone at St John’s should’ve been on top of this.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “NHS Lothian has not been without its problems when it comes to maternity capacity in recent years.

“Perhaps the fact one member of staff was allowed to disable an entire unit of an evening goes some way to explaining why.

“Hopefully the health board can learn from this and ensure this type of deception is impossible in future.”

Sarah Ballard-Smith, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: “This incident was fully investigated and swift and decisive action was taken at the time.

“This person no longer works for NHS Lothian and therefore we would not comment further.”

The NMC is expected to decide today (Thu) what sanction to apply against Ms Marin.

In January, five-month-old Leah Carroll, from Livingston, died from meningitis after staff at St John’s failed to diagnose the condition, sending her home with Calpol.