By Melissa Clark
TWO midwives who chatted about their holidays as they bungled a baby’s birth have been struck off.
Lyn Foy and Donna Jack failed to carry out numerous checks during the delivery and did not notice the unborn baby’s heart rate dropping.
Tragic Jessica Penny was starved of oxygen and left severely disabled, unable to stand unaided and with a vocabulary of just six words.
The midwives’ failures were described by Jessica’s mother, Lynne, as an “assault” that left her daughter needing constant care while she herself required counselling and anti-depressants.
Mrs Foy and Ms Jack were charged by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) over the incident at the Princess Royal Maternity Unit, Glasgow, on August 27, 2007.
Following a hearing in Edinburgh, the NMC ruled the fitness to practise of both nurses was impaired and effectively banned them from the profession for at least five years.
The charges against Mrs Foy, all of which she admitted, included failing to check the foetal heart rate during labour, failing to keep proper records and failing to contact a doctor when she noticed Jessica was in a poor condition.
The NMC said Mrs Foy, who now works in a drug crisis unit in Glasgow, had a previously unblemished 22-year career, was very “traumatised” by what had happened, and remorseful.
But the panel concluded that the misconduct was so serious that it would “be wholly inappropriate not to make a finding of impairment”.
And they struck Mrs Foy off because of a significant risk of her repeating the behaviour.
Donna Jack, a registered midwife since December 1989, did not attend the hearing and was not represented although she defended her actions when they were investigated at the time.
It was found proved that Ms Jack failed to ensure observations during labour, failed to keep records and failed to call for a doctor when baby Jessica was found in a poor condition.
She also failed to communicate effectively with other team members, failed to take adequate steps to resuscitate the baby and failed to commence the resuscitation until Jessica was three minutes old.
The charge of failing to identify decelerations of the foetal heart rate was not proved due to insufficient evidence at the hearing.
The panel noted that when hospital chiefs investigated the bungled birth “Ms Jack frequently sought to avoid responsibility for her conduct” and “her evidence at those hearings was often inconsistent and contradictory”.
“The panel has been provided with no evidence to suggest that Ms Jack has taken any steps to remediate her failures and as a result, it must conclude that there remains a real risk of repetition,” they stated.
Earlier in the proceedings, Mrs Penny gave heart-rending evidence to the NMC about the devastating effect of the midwives’ errors.
She told the hearing 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.
During this time, Mrs Foy and Miss Jack had had had a “social chat” between themselves about their holidays, she said.
Turning to the prospects for her daughter, who has Cerebral Palsy, she told the hearing: “She can’t stand on her own. 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.”
She 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.”
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.”
Mrs Penny 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.
Mrs Perry, and her chef husband, Colin, from Rutherglen, are now raising £60,000 to pay for an operation in the US to try to improve Jessica’s quality of life.
The operation will help Jessica walk unaided and prevent further deformities happening in her legs and feet.
The couple have organised sponsored walks, dinners, auctions and bag packing to try and reach their target to help their daughter.
The operation is called selective dorsal rhizotomy and will be carried out by Dr TS Park at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.