Glasgow & West Scotland

Nurse put cushion on 'distressed' child's face at Glasgow hospital

Male nurse Image copyright Getty Images

A nurse who put a cushion on the face of a "distressed" child has been suspended.

Paul Denis-Smith was found to have used an inappropriate restraint by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practice panel.

He was working in a child psychiatric inpatient unit at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow when the incident happened in March 2016.

The panel ruled that 12 charges against Mr Denis-Smith were proven.

They included administering the wrong dose of medication and recording inaccurate information in a patient's notes.

Suspending him for 12 months, the NMC panel ruled that his practice was "below the standard that one would expect of a reasonably competent registered nurse".

They said there was a need to protect the public.

'Management of aggression'

Mr Denis-Smith was first employed as a nurse with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in 2009.

He worked at Skye House, a unit at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow dealing with teenagers suffering from mental ill health.

Amid concerns about his practice, he was moved to the child psychiatric unit at the former children's hospital at Yorkhill, and then the new hospital in Govan.

It had six beds and offered services for children aged under 12.

The panel heard that the nurse had to deal with a distressed patient on 24 March 2016, two days after taking a course in the management of aggression.

Mr Denis-Smith said he was asked to put a cushion between another nurse and the child to prevent his colleagues being "head-butted" and spat at.

The incident was described as "highly-charged" and two staff members were injured.

'Powerfully written'

But the panel said they considered Mr Denis-Smith's account of the incident "implausible".

They described a letter written by the patient's mother - herself a nurse - as "powerfully written".

And they raised concerns that he did not appear to understand that the use of the cushion was wrong.

A nurse adviser for the children's and adolescent's mental health service (CAMHS) told the panel that it was not appropriate to use a cushion in such circumstances due to the risk of suffocation.

Mr Denis-Smith was given a non-clinical job at the end of 2016 and he was referred to the NMC in January 2017.

He resigned from the health board in January 2019.

Speaking at his home in Dalry, Ayrshire, on Tuesday, Mr Denis-Smith insisted he was only trying to protect staff from injury.

He said: "NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have a zero tolerance regarding violence and aggression towards its staff.

"No action was taken towards the patient who injured members of staff during this incident, and I feel that is not being taken account of.

"I was just trying to prevent members of staff getting injured. Obviously the NMC thought otherwise."

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We do not comment on individual cases."

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