Midwives face charges of bungling birth

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A HEARTBROKEN mother has revealed how her baby daughter was left severely disabled after midwives allegedly bungled her birth.

Jessica, now four, had too little oxygen at birth, leaving her unable to stand unaided and with a vocabulary of just six words.

The conduct of the midwives at Princess Royal Maternity Unit, Glasgow, was described by Jessica’s mother as an “assault” that left her daughter needing constant care and herself needing counselling and anti-depressants.

Midwives Lyn Foy and Donna Jack are charged with failing to monitor Jessica’s heart rate properly, keep proper records, carry out adequate observations of the mother, and keep doctors informed.

Miss Foy, who was in charge of the birth on August 27, 2007, admits the charges against her but denies she is unfit to practise.

Donna Jack did not attend the hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) although she defended her actions when they were investigated at the time.

Jessica’s mother told the hearing in Edinburgh there were no concerns about her baby during pregnancy and that when first admitted the labour was “progressing positively”.

But the midwives had discouraged her from going to the labour ward, despite slow progress and weakening contractions.

The mother said Miss Foy and Miss Jack had had a “social chat” between themselves about their holidays, rather than matters relating to her care.

She then told the hearing about the consequences of Jessica’s birth.

Tragic

“She can’t stand on her own,” said the mother. “She can crawl and pull herself up on furniture. She wears splints on both feet every day.

“She’s in a lot of pain at night because she’s tight, we have to do exercises with her. She uses sign language and has six verbal words.”

The mother added: “It was meant to be one of the happiest days of our lives but it has turned into a tragic event. It has made considering having another child very traumatic.”

The mother worked as a social worker at the time of Jessica’s birth, and added that she is likely to now be dismissed because of her struggle to concentrate at work. She is still receiving therapy for the incident.

Assault

Referring to the midwives, she said: “I need to ensure that they’re not given the chance to shatter someone else’s life.

“My baby was compromised in the womb and after her birth by these two women. In our opinion, they harmed Jessica to the point of assault.

“I’m now on anti-depressants. I find it difficult to sleep and my mind replays what happened. We are reminded of what happened every minute of every day but these two women have carried on with their lives. I can never come to terms with the fact that this was someone’s fault.”

The hearing was told the incident happened in the unit for “low-risk” births, at which the mother arrived in “active labour” at 2pm.

No checks

John Lucarotti, who presented the case for the NMC, told the hearing that regular checks of the mother’s vital signs were not carried out, including temperature, pulse and blood pressure.

“The observations and monitoring needed was not conducted in a satisfactory manner. The records kept were not at the level they should have been,” he said.

Helene Marshall, Clinical Risk Manager at the time, said the baby’s heart rate was being monitored and irregularities emerged within 20 minutes.

She told the hearing that they “should have been thinking of getting someone to take a look”.

According to Mrs Marshall, the midwives telephoned the labour ward doctor at 10pm about the slow progress of the birth but did not mention the baby was in distress.

Mr Lucarotti said the baby was born at 10.20pm “pale, limp, toneless and non-responsive to tactile stimulation”.

He said Miss Jack tried to resuscitate the baby without success.

Another witness, Lucinda Powls, Practice Development Midwife, said that when Baby Jessica showed no improvement after three minutes, Miss Jack should have called for assistance, stating that there are “call bells in every room”.

Emergency help only arrived – ten minutes after birth – when a labour ward doctor happened to check on progress and summoned the paediatric team.

Mrs Powls, who investigated the case, told the hearing that a check on baby Jessica’s heart rate taken at 9.30pm showed it was noted by the midwives as 130 beats per minute (BMP). In fact, it was 180BMP.

Mrs Marshall said Ms Foy was “very distressed” about the condition of the baby following the birth.

Agressive

But she said Miss Jack had a “dismissive” and “aggressive” attitude and had stated she had “nothing to hide…didn’t doubt her skills or feel she needed help…didn’t want to talk about it.

“I regularly felt Donna took risks that she shouldn’t have.

“There was nothing wrong with phoning for help. It was what was expected.”

Mrs Marshall added: “The care given was completely inappropriate and mismanaged. There are serious practise issues with the midwives involved.”

The hearing was told that both midwives had been dismissed following the case and that there had been no contact from Miss Jack since April 2011.

The hearing continues.

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