Forth Valley nurse struck off for failing to report child sex abuse allegation

A NHS Forth Valley nurse who failed to report an allegation a vulnerable three-year-old girl was being sexually abused has been struck off.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practice panel found Emily Whitelaw to have put the girl ‘at risk of serious harm’ for failing to report an allegation involving the child’s step-grandfather to social services or the police.

After the child’s mothers reported her concerns to Whitelaw, she told her colleague to take no further action as she believed the claim had been fabricated.

The former health visitor for NHS Forth Valley then failed to document in the youngster’s record how she reached that decision. She also failed to  visit the girl to conduct a welfare check as to her safety and did not contact the child’s mother to discuss or clarify the allegation.

Publishing their findings this week, the NMC panel said: “Regardless of whether Miss Whitelaw thought this was true or false, she should have immediately reported the matter for further investigation.

“It was her responsibility to report such matters so that they could be further investigated by the social services department and/or the police.

“In situations like this, Miss Whitelaw would also have been expected to promptly visit the child to ensure their safety, undertake a risk assessment and to contact the mother to discuss this issue but failed to do so.”

Whitelaw, who accepted that her fitness to practice was impaired by reason of her misconduct, claimed that she was not properly supported in her role. She also provided reflective pieces where she expressed remorse and acknowledged her failings.

However, the NMC the panel said: “There have been repeated failings in her handling of safeguarding concerns involving extremely vulnerable children.

“Ms Whitelaw’s actions and omissions were significant departures from the standards expected of a registered nurse and such serious breaches of the fundamental tenets of the profession are incompatible with her remaining on the register.

“The parties agree that a striking-off order would be the most appropriate and proportionate order in this case.”

It is understood the child is now in foster care and requires support in relation to emotional and physical health.

Whitelaw has since retired from the profession.

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