Blackburn nurse cleared in baby neglect case - but faces sanctions for misconduct

Nurse Philippa Ralph

Nurse Philippa Ralph

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Health Reporter

A NEWLY-qualified nurse has been cleared of leaving seriously-ill babies covered in vomit, but will face sanctions on two misconduct charges.

Philippa Ralph, who is in her mid-20s, faced seven separate charges from the Nursing and Midwifery Council after being sacked from the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in 2008.

An NMC conduct and competence committee, which sat in Lancaster, decided there was no case to answer in relation to some of the most serious allegations, due to a lack of evidence.

She was therefore cleared of five charges, including leaving babies wearing wet clothes, soiled nappies and covered in vomit, and inserting a feeding tube into an infant’s stomach when it was already full.

However, the panel found against her on two charges, after hearing how one baby boy had started ‘turning blue’ after Miss Ralph took him off nasal continuous positive airway pressure —which keeps the windpipe open during sleep and prevents episodes of blocked breathing.

The mother became ‘distraught’ as her son became blue around the lips ‘and looked a bit grey’, and a colleague felt it necessary to intervene and give the baby oxygen through a face mask, the panel found.

Miss Ralph also attempted to weigh a baby when it was wrapped in clothes, rather than weighing it when it was naked, and needed prompting to wrap a baby in a blanket when its temperature was low, the panel found.

She admitted further allegations, which were listed under the same charge, of administering medication to a baby about nine hours after it was due, and telling colleagues that a baby was being given one litre of oxygen when it was being given just 0.1 litres.

Her case has been adjourned, with her sanctions and fitness to practise due to be assessed at a later date.

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