Yetholm mum shaken by cough syrup warning

The Border General Hospital near Melrose in The Scottish Borders.
The Border General Hospital near Melrose in The Scottish Borders.

A Yetholm mother claims nurses warned she faced investigation if she gave her toddler adult cough medicine when new laws are in force.

Mrs Caroline Sharwood-Smith contacted The Southern this week and told how recently, in the early hours of a morning, she had to given her toddler son a quarter-measure of adult cough syrup after running out of baby syrup.

Immediately regretting it and in a bit of a panic, she drove to Borders General Hospital where paediatric nursing staff told her the boy was fine and that the dose had been well within safe limits.

But Mrs Sharwood-Smith claims nurses then warned her that if the new Named Person legislation had been in force – it is due to come into effect in August next year and will see every child under 18 appointed a ‘state guardian’ – they would have had to refer her for investigation.

“I was so shaken and so grateful for their professionalism and sympathy, and the speed with which we were seen, I said nothing,” Mrs Sharwood-Smith told us. “But the idea I might ‘face investigation’ or scrutiny over a safe dose of cough syrup? It horrifies me. Parents must be made aware of what the Named Person policy means. It means state surveillance of us as parents.”

As a result, Mrs Sharwood-Smith has called on parents to vote against what she called the SNP government’s attack on parenthood, and again in Scottish parliamentary elections in 2016.

“In each constituency, I would urge parents to vote tactically, to diminish the SNP’s influence, to fight their attack to parenthood,” she urged.

“Parents, not the state, are best placed to bring up their children.”

The controversial plans to appoint a named guardian to every child in Scotland were proposed in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act passed last February.

The named person, such as a teacher or health worker, is intended to have an overview of the child’s wellbeing and can be contacted for help and support on issues from bullying to sleeping problems, as well as more serious concerns.

Asked if it was now policy for local medical staff to warn parents about anything which would in future be considered grounds for reporting an incident under Named Person laws, NHS Borders this week said it was unable to comment, given the political element of Mrs Sharwood-Smith’s comments, due to the proximity of next week’s general election.