Midwife struck off after telling new mother that terrorists could poison baby formula

Anya Semenenko also told a ‘nan and dad’ to watch the birth against the patient's wishes.

An experienced midwife in the UK who claimed terrorists could contaminate baby formula to scare a mother into breastfeeding has been struck off for 18 months.

Anya Semenenko’s tactic was discovered when a nurse asked the mother how she wanted to feed her baby.

She said she wanted to bottle-feed but that Ms Semenenko had told her to breastfeed “because of what was going on”.

When the nurse asked her what she meant, she said: ‘What’s going [on] with terrorists in the world, that they could put something in the formula to kill the babies’.

The allegation of inappropriate conduct was just one of 25 allegations made against Ms Semenenko, who trained in Russia.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council panel found that when she introduced herself to another patient, she said she was Russian and, “if you don’t like that, you can get another midwife”.

She also added, “I am quite different; you either love me or hate me — take it or leave it.”

The patient later admitted the comments had made her “nervous”.

When the same patient later requested an epidural, Ms Semenenko told her mother, “Well, I don’t know why she needs an epidural. I wouldn’t let my child have an epidural. It’s not the best thing to do.”

She also failed to act when fetal monitoring showed bradycardia in her management of another woman in labour.

And in a different case, a patient accused the nurse of “having a go” when she incorrectly used gas and air.

She also said the gas and air had run out 2-3 times while she was in the birthing pool but that Ms Semenenko refused to check the cannister.

Eventually, the patient’s mother went and retrieved a new cannister.

In yet another incident, she pressured a patient’s partner and mother to watch the birth, against the patient’s wishes, asking, “Do Nan and Dad want to have a look?”.

Ms Semenenko, 59, denied the majority of allegations, claiming she was the victim of xenophobia and bullying.

But the panel found there was no evidence to support her claim.

In finding Ms Semenenko unfit to practise, it said patients had been placed at risk of harm because of her her misconduct and lack of competence, with three patients experiencing emotional harm or distress as a result.

“The panel is of the view that there is a risk of repetition as there is no evidence of insight, strengthened practice or remorse,” it wrote.

“The panel was not satisfied that this behaviour would not be repeated in the future. The panel therefore decided that a finding of impairment is necessary on the grounds of public protection.”

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More information: UK Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practise Committee; 10 Jul 2023.