Senior midwife used fake degree certificate for overseas job

A senior Glasgow midwife who used a fake degree certificate to apply for a “lucrative” role in Saudi Arabia has been suspended by regulators.

Mary Clarke admitted sending the certificate to an employment agency stating she had achieved a Master of Science Degree from Napier University.

However, she was rumbled after it emerged the document was signed by a university chancellor who had been dead for four years.

The midwife, a senior charge midwife at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, was applying for a post as assistant director of nursing for maternal and child at King Fahad Military Medical Complex in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

She listed the degree on her CV and on the job application form.

READ MORE: Daughter of rail tycoon suspended from nursing register

Napier Univerity alerted the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) saying they had no record of the midwife being awarded a master’s degree.

The certificate was dated July 13 2007 and contained the signature of a previous chancellor who had passed away in 2003.

A university witness told an inquiry that the formatting of the text on the degree certificate was not in keeping with its house style and “unlike anything she had seen in 20 years”.

The NMW said the midwife’s “premeditated act” had been motivated by financial gain.

She admitted to falsely claiming she had been awarded the degree in a job application and CV and sending a fake certificate.

A third charge that she knew she had not been awarded the qualification was found proved by the NMC.

The inquiry heard from four witnesses including the managing director of the English recruitment agency she used to apply for the job in Saudi and a senior teaching fellow in midwifery at Napier University.

It emerged that the midwife had enrolled for a master’s degree course but had only obtained 75 module credits out of the required 180.

She had achieved an exit award postgraduate in teaching and learning in higher education.

The midwife claimed she was told by a university lecturer that other courses she had completed would count towards credits for a master’s degree.

READ MORE: Lothian nurse admitted ‘I’m not fit to practice’ during misconduct trial 

However, she was unable to explain why a transcript outlining the modules she had completed did not include the other courses she is said to have discussed with the course leader.

Ms Clarke said she was relying on the lecturer going to the exam board to confirm whether the additional work would be sufficient to obtain the degree.

However, the NMC said it was “not plausible” that she would not have followed this up with the university.

The midwife described the job she had applied for as “lucrative” and admitted that having a Masters would be beneficial for her application.

Her solicitor told the inquiry that she had fully complied with the NMC investigation, turned down promotions while the investigation was ongoing and enrolled with the University of West of Scotland to complete her master’s degree.

The inquiry found she had shown genuine remorse for her actions and had a previously unblemished 24-year career in midwifery.

However, the NMC said she was guilty of serious misconduct and she was suspended from the nursing register for nine months.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it did not comment on individual cases and said all HR procedures are managed in line with national policy.


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Time to get back into your stride at Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital

AS a TV presenter used to working in harsh environments – and the father of an active four-year-old and lively twins – Steve Backshall did not need severe knee pain in his life.

“I have a life where I need to be making the first ascents of mountains in the middle of nowhere,” he explains. “And then fatherhood, you know – every element of that is physical too.  “Wouldn’t it be awful if I look back in 10 to 15 years’ time and say ‘I never ran around playing rugby with the little boy because I had this ache in my knee’ and it could have been solved?”

For Steve, the solution is Zimmer Biomet’s nSTRIDE APS, an autologous – from within your own body – protein solution treatment designed to target the joint pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

According to the NHS, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting more than 10 million people, with many adults developing the condition in their mid-40s and older. The new treatment, which aims to eliminate pain in one dose, is made from high levels of ‘good proteins’ concentrated from the patient’s blood, and not steroids. 

“For a lot of time when my knee was at its worst, I’d be avoiding all of those things that give life its zest, and after I had nSTRIDE, I was just back being me again,” says Backshall.


Above,  TV presenter Steve Backshall


“I was suffering from osteoarthritis and originally I just avoided dealing with it. The nSTRIDE APS treatment was appealing because it had so many elements that seemed to fit with my ethos of how I want to try and fix myself.”

The treatment involves a small injection into the knee joint of ‘good proteins’, which can block ‘bad proteins’ responsible for inflammation. In addition to reducing pain and stiffness, the treatment can restore mobility and function and potentially help slow the destruction of cartilage.

For Steve Backshall, the benefits of one injection lasted for around 18 months. Clinical studies suggest some people can benefit for up to between 24 and 36 months.

More recently collected data has shown others can have pain relief for up to five years. Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital, part of the UK’s largest healthcare charity, is the first independent hospital in Scotland to offer the treatment.

Jennifer Woodell-May, Research Director, Zimmer Biomet says that clinical studies have shown a noticeable improvement in knee pain for some patients.

“It is a simple treatment – blood is drawn from a vein in the arm and white blood cells and a small amount of plasma are harvested from this sample,” she explains. “The blood is then processed to make high concentrations of anti-inflammatory proteins and these proteins are then injected into the affected area.”

The treatment is performed in an outpatient clinic and takes approximately 30 minutes. After four to five days, patients can expect a small reduction in swelling, stiffness and pain.


A significant reduction in pain may take up to 12 weeks to occur, but most patients notice a difference in around four to eight weeks.

A personalised patient care plan for patients on the nSTRIDE treatment pathway will include access to the Nuffield Glasgow Hospital’s joint pain rehabilitation programme, physiotherapy and follow-up with a specialist consultant.

Julie Campbell, Hospital Director at Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital says: “People who are not suitable for knee surgery, but whose lifestyle is severely impacted by osteoarthritis may benefit from this new treatment and personalised care plan which connects to our rehabilitation services. It is fantastic news that Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital is the first hospital in Scotland to offer this treatment and I am delighted that the multidisciplinary team have worked together to launch this new outpatient service.”

The treatment is performed by Mr Stuart Bell and Mr Jibu John Joseph, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons. Mr Joseph said: “For many years patients with mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis have had to suffer from pain and restriction without the possibility of a suitable treatment.

“This is a treatment that utilises your own blood to generate a sample of anti-inflammatory proteins and growth factors that helps restore the balance between cartilage generation and degeneration within your joint.”


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History shows privatisation won’t put the NHS back on its feet

IN his letter (November 23) recommending the European model of health care provision, John Sinclair stated that competition drives up standards and bureaucracy is kept to a minimum. Both these statements are valid only in very limited circumstances.

As soon as large business organisations are involved in near-monopolies, endless ingenuity is applied to create cartels or otherwise prevent genuine competition. It is also notable that when national resources are broken up in the interests of “competition”, bureaucracy and confusion are multiplied. He might like to consider the nation’s railways, electricity industry or water supplies.

Many of the problems of the NHS can be traced back to the Thatcher Government’s decision to run the service like a business. There have been many illustrations of the folly of this dogma, including Enron, BHS, HBS, ICI, Barings Bank and FHP. There are plenty of others.

The letter also contained the common British reference to Scandinavian levels of taxation. Having experienced life in Scandinavia, I would be delighted to pay Scandinavian levels of tax if I had the public services and standard of living of Scandinavians.
Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh

Follow Italy on languages

I WAS surprised, and I may say disappointed, to read Mr Beppe Conte’s letter (November 22) on Neapolitan. He should be aware, first, that there is no hard and fast opposition between “language” and “dialect”, the status of any speech-form being dependent on several mutually-independent factors; and second, that any community speech, whether classed as language or as dialect, deserves support as an integral part of that community’s identity.

Some years ago I attended a conference on minority languages in Ortisei, in the Italian Dolomites. The languages of the conference were Italian, German, English and Ladino, the local speech: the conference was opened with a speech in Ladino by the Mayor of Ortisei. I am competent in Italian, but Ladino proved almost completely foreign to me, both from hearing it spoken and from the textbooks and grammars which were on display at the conference. Neapolitan, in my limited experience of it, is equally remote from standard Italian.

One of the things I learned from that conference was that Italy puts Scotland completely to shame in its provision for the local languages and dialects which abound there. Each local speech form, even those with only a few hundred native speakers, has its own website, mutually linked to allow for collaboration in developing the dialects for modern use; and each one is actively supported in its own community and recognised by the educational system: some have their grammar and orthography defined in textbooks and others are in the process of reaching this stage of development. Haste the day when Scotland is as advanced as Italy in this respect, and we see Glaswegian and the other dialects of Scots getting the same respect as Friulian or Abruzzese.
Derrick McClure, Aberdeen

A96 must be dualled

HAVING read Patricia Fort’s response (Letters, November 22) to Doug Marr’s article (“Dualling is essential to end A9 and A96 carnage”, The Herald, November 21), I can only conclude that she does not drive the A96 regularly.

Aberdeen and Inverness are more than 100 miles apart by road. They are two of Scotland’s most important cities and the road is busy. Yet, the A96 remains completely inadequate for the traffic. This would be so even if we were all the perfect drivers she discusses but which, sadly, we aren’t. The road should be designed with this in mind.

It is difficult to maintain an average speed of even close to 40 mph. I allow three hours for the journey. Drivers often use secondary Don and Deeside routes, hardly main arteries, in order to avoid the A96. Although even slower they are at least pleasurable to drive. They do however take one out onto that other problem road, the A9. Of the two the A9 is better.

There are no bypasses of three of the reasonably-sized towns on the route and a further, at Forres, is fairly half-hearted. Apart from the low average this obviously leads to local traffic and environmental issues. Lorries find it hard to maintain a good speed on the many hills. There are numerous side and farm roads and tractors abound, as do tourists. All amongst purposeful white van and business traffic. The overtaking lanes are infrequent and woefully short leading to considerable anxiety. Overtaking away from these lanes is only possible when traffic is quiet and is near impossible when busy. Nevertheless, a lot of overtaking in potentially dangerous situations does go on.

The dualling project does appear to have ground to a halt, no doubt due to political pressure. Meantime, the accidents mount up. I completely agree with Doug Marr.
Angus MacEachran, Aberdeen

• THERE’S been some debate this week about trying to reduce the number of deaths on Scottish roads. It reminds me of a time back in the early 1990s when I signed a petition that was circulating in my workplace demanding the Government “dual” the A1 from Edinburgh to the Border, to reduce the number of road deaths. Thirty years later this still hasn’t been achieved, although admittedly there has been extensive dualling work completed in that period. Along many stretches of the A1 and A68 there were, for many years, road signs highlighting the number of fatalities on these roads as a stark warning to drivers.

Your caption beside the photo of the A9 asks “is dualling the A9 really essential to reduce the number of accidents there?” (Letters, November 22). I think it would (as with the A1) certainly reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers taking unnecessary risks on single-lane parts of the route. However, it’s not a silver bullet and encouraging drivers to drive safely and legally (through warning signs, publicity, and appropriate punishments for offences) would undoubtedly also greatly help.
Brian Watt, Edinburgh

Parting note

IT may be of interest to those following the appraisal of “banjo” alternative meanings (Scots Word if the Week, November 19) to report the advice offered in some quarters to a member of a group announcing their early departure, either fraternally jocular, or as veiled displeasure: “And take your bloody banjo with you”.
R Russell Smith, Largs


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.

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Scotland is Instagram star after surpassing 20 million hashtags

It has been said that every Instagram feed needs a sprinkle of Scotland, with its landscape of majestic lochs, bens, glens and castles offering the perfect picturesque backdrop to any social media snaps.

Millions it seems have done just that, with new data revealing that “Scotland” has recently surpassed 20 million Instagram hashtags on photo and video sharing social networking service Instagram. 

The milestone comes weeks after National Geographic, which has the biggest non-celebrity account on the social media app with 246 million followers, named the Scottish Highlands as one of the 25 most breathtaking places in the world to experience in 2023. 

VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation for Scotland, enjoys that they said is a “significant” presence on Instagram.

READ MORE: Scottish Highlands given prestigious National Geographic honour

Having launched the world’s first “Instagram travel agency” in 2017, which allowed visitors to design holidays to Scotland based around other people’s Instagram photos, the official VisitScotland Instagram account is now the most followed tourism organisation in Europe on the platform, with more than 1.5 million followers.

Added to that, their own VisitScotland hashtag that they created has now been used over 4.2million times on Instagram, which is more hashtags than any Scottish landmark has achieved to date. 

In response to news that “Scotland” has surpassed 20 million hashtags on Instagram, Lesley McIvor, VisitScotland Senior Social Media and Influencer Manager, told The Herald: “Social media has become an extremely important tool for marketing Scotland as a tourism destination. 

“Instagram is just one platform that VisitScotland has a significant presence on – with our account being the most followed tourism organisation in Europe at 1.5 million followers. The social media team often use the popular Scotland hashtag to our advantage, while our own VisitScotland hashtag is becoming more visible, having been used 4.2million times.”

HeraldScotland:  Edinburgh has had over 10.4 million Instagram hashtags Edinburgh has had over 10.4 million Instagram hashtags

“As with other channels, our Instagram account has the primary aim of creating destination awareness with engaging content for a global audience. Scotland’s stunning scenery is a huge draw for visitors and Instagram has proved to be an ideal way to showcase just how special our country is. 

“Through engaging, visual content, we hope users can see Scotland as a great destination to visit and inspire that global audience to consider Scotland.”

Scotland’s total of hashtags to date on Instagram far surpasses that of the 9.5 million dedicated to Wales and the 3.2 million dedicated to Northern Ireland. 

However, Ireland and England have both been tagged more times than Scotland, with 23.3 million hashtags and 34.8 million hashtags respectively on the social media platform.

In terms of locations within Scotland, “Edinburgh” is streets ahead of the rest with 10.4 million Instagram dedicated hashtags, while “Glasgow”  has had 7.9 million dedicated hashtags to date. 

In third place is “The Highlands” with 2.8 million hashtags, ahead of “Aberdeen” with 1.8 million hashtags, “Skye” with 1.4 million hashtags and “Dundee2 with 1.1 million hashtags. 

Scotland’s Instagram milestone also comes after the south of Scotland was named one of the best places in the world to visit by renowned travel guide Lonely Planet last week.

In it’s Best in Travel list for 2023, it named the south of Scotland as one of the best educational places to visit, alongside the likes of Manchester, New Mexico, Dresden, El Salvador and Marseille.