Midwife at Northampton General Hospital suspended after risking baby’s life with feeding tube

Gosset ward
Gosset ward

A midwife who worked at Northampton General Hospital has been suspended over fitting a feeding tube to a premature baby on Christmas Day in such a way he was in danger of death.

Esther Dias was guilty of a ‘serious error of judgement’, the Nursing and Midwifery Council said, over the incident in December 2011 on Gosset Ward. They heard that NGH midwives had only nine months previously been given training on how to safely insert the tube into a baby’s stomach via its nose.

But Dias left the tube short, which experts say endangers the baby as it could easily breathe in the food from its stomach and choke to death.

Jane Kivlin, who chaired the panel, said in its judgement: “The panel considered the serious risk of harm and even death that could have arisen from passing the nasogastric tube in an unsafe manner. [We] considered that by placing a vulnerable patient such as Baby A, a premature baby, at such risk, Dias had fallen far below the standards expected of a registered midwife.

“In so doing, Dias brought the midwifery profession into disrepute and breached a fundamental tenet of the midwifery profession.”

The NMC also heard that three days later she was seen amending the feeding log for Christmas Day to say she was with the baby while he was feeding. However the panel did not consider that she was being dishonest because she also dated her retrospective entry.

The panel said Dias’s conduct was not so bad as to incur a striking off order and instead suspended her for six months.

Major mitigating factors were that her health was very bad at the time of the error, to the extent that witnesses at the tribunal (which Dias did not attend due to health reasons) “expressed concerns regarding her ability to practise”.

Dias also had almost four decades of otherwise unblemished midwifery experience and was “a source of knowledge and advice” on Gosset ward and more widely, the panel said.

Mrs Kivlin said: “Mrs Dias is an extremely experienced midwife who has the requisite skills and training,

“This was an error of judgement in the context of a longstanding career of 39 years.

“The panel considers that Mrs Dias should reflect on her actions.”

Dias was suspended for six months and can appeal.

It is understood she no longer works at NGH.