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Midwife fails to prove misconduct inquiry is biased

A MIDWIFE has failed in her claim that an inquiry into allegations of professional misconduct against her is biased.

A total of 19 allegations of professional misconduct were made against domiciliary midwife Ann O'Ceallaigh, of Temple Crescent, Blackrock, Co Dublin. The complaints related to her treatment of a woman between Novem-ber 2006 and April 2007.

The Fitness to Practise Committee of An Bord Altranais (Nursing Board) commenced, but it was put on hold after Ms O'Ceallaigh initiated a legal challenge in July 2009. Yesterday's ruling means the inquiry can now proceed.

Ms O'Ceallaigh had alleged bias on grounds of the professional relationship between the committee's chairwoman, Pauline Treanor, who was general manager of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, and an expert midwife witness, Fiona Hanrahan, assistant director of nursing and midwifery at the Rotunda.

However, the allegation of bias was rejected by the Supreme Court. Mr Justice Nial Fennelly said the inquiry dealt with Ms O'Ceallaigh's care of a client who had a home birth for her first pregnancy and in particular, the care provided during labour from April 18 to April 20, 2007.

The baby girl died after her mother was transferred to the Coombe Hospital.

However, the judge said the board made it clear from the outset it was not alleging Ms O'Ceallaigh was responsible for the death.

Mr Justice Fennelly said he had analysed the claims of objective bias and said there was no evidence that either Ms Treanor or Ms Hanrahan had any interest in the outcome of the inquiry "other than of upholding proper professional standards of nursing and midwifery".

Irish Independent