A midwife has appeared in court accused of stealing drugs meant for women in labour at a Fife maternity unit.
Caroline Heap was one of three staff members understood to have been suspended over claims powerful painkillers were removed from bags used to administer epidurals to women at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.
The 41-year-old of Glenrothes faced charges of theft and culpable and reckless conduct when she appeared on petition at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
She made no plea or declaration during the brief private hearing and her case was continued for further examination.
Heap was released on bail ahead of further court dates being set.
It is believed the charges related to the theft of the drug fentanyl - which is commonly used in epidurals.
The opiate is said by the American Drugs Enforcement Agency to be 50 times stronger than heroin.
Sources said concerns were raised in summer at the Fife hospital over the preparation of epidural medication.
They said: “A consultant anaesthatist raised concerns about epidural bags.
“One bag was found to be short of one of the ingredients - fentanyl.
“There should be 250ml of fentanyl in each bag but 150ml had been taken out of each one.
“At least two staff are supposed to prepare the bags.
“There are potential contamination issues and the potential for lawsuits.”
It is understood police used video surveillance during the investigation and that the case has been brought to the attention of Scottish Government health minister Shona Robison and Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
A spokesman for NHS Fife confirmed the alleged theft but declined to comment further on any suspensions imposed on staff.
He said: “We can confirm that the police are investigating an alleged theft from Victoria Hospital.
“We are unable to comment during a live police investigation but can offer assurances there is no risk to the public.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “A woman has been arrested and charged in connection with a theft of medication from the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.
“The 41-year-old appeared before Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Wednesday, November 9.”