Children starved and living in squalor but nurse failed to intervene

A NURSE failed to check on two children who were living in such appalling conditions they had to be taken in to care.

Elaine Wilson, a public health nurse who was supposed to visit high-risk families and assess their needs, failed to report children who were clearly unclean and malnourished. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was told a colleague visited one of the families and discovered two youngsters with matted hair and grey faces living among wet nappies.

But Ms Wilson had reported the children, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, as “well fed and disciplined”.

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The nurse, who admits the charges against her and that she is unfit to practise, faces being struck off. Ms Wilson, who was based at a health centre in Coatbridge, admitted more than 30 charges of failing to make visits, misjudging the level of support required for vulnerable children and poor record-keeping in relation to five families.

In the worst case, referred to only as “Family A”, she failed to raise concerns about the filthy home two siblings were living in. Despite being given the case in April 2007, she first visited the family in January 2009, and even then did not escalate 
concerns about a child’s “small/thin appearance”.

A witness said Ms Wilson, who earned up to £34,000 as a band-six nurse, had “failed in her duty of care”.

According to the nurse’s line manager, Maureen Gray, the two siblings were living in a dirty and unsafe environment and had to be taken into care.

The family’s appalling conditions were only discovered when Mrs Gray paid an unplanned visit to the home in 
August 2009.

She told the hearing: “There were wet nappies, clothes and scraps of food all over the floor.

“Child One had a sodden nappy and both children 
appeared to be dirty and grey with matted hair.

“Child One was complaining that he was thirsty. I asked Mr A to get the child something to drink and he passed Child One a cup of warm sour milk.

“There was no bed for Child One and the cot for Child Two was full of dirty laundry and used food and drinks cartons.

“The one bed in the home had no sheets and one dirty duvet.”

She added: “Child One and Child Two could not remain in the house.”

Mrs Gray described her conduct as “wholly inadequate” for a nurse of her level of experience.

Ms Wilson was not present and not represented at the hearing, but admitted all charges against her in a letter to the NMC.

Alison Todd, director of policy and practice at Children 1st, said: “It is clear that two children have been neglected, not only by their parents, but by the professional whose job it was to care for them.”

The hearing continues.