Can you trust your midwife?
- AuthorJudith Thomas-Whittingham
A major new series of reports has revealed that annually around 4,000 babies in the UK die unexpectedly in the last months of pregnancy or during labour. This constitutes one of highest rates of stillbirth in Europe. Alarmingly, one third of UK stillbirths are unexplained. However, poor NHS maternity care is thought to play a part in more than 600 cases.
Neal Long, Chief Executive of the Charity Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) comments that the number of unexplained still births is “a national scandal which has persisted for far too long in this country."
These disturbing findings into stillbirths have been published at a time of growing concern about midwife regulation in the UK.
Currently, only the gravest allegations are passed to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the body which has the power to prevent a midwife working with patients. Generally, if a midwife is found to have put a patient’s safety at risk then he or she will be issued with a supervision order. This simply means that for a short probationary period the midwife cannot work unless he or she is supervised by a Local Supervising Authority (LSA).
In reality, a midwife can accrue multiple supervision orders without the NMC being aware of a problem. In addition, whereas patients are currently able to check whether their doctor’s conduct has been subject to investigation there is no such method of performing checks on midwives.
It is clear that a complicated regulatory system is having a detriment impact on the public. It is this writer’s opinion that better communication between the organisations could stop an incompetent midwife from persistently making mistakes, including mistakes which might end in tragedy. This opinion is echoed by Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of the patient charity Action Against Medical Accidents, who believes that the NMC and LSAs should become part of the same organisation to ensure that breakdowns in communication are avoided.
If you believe the medical treatment you have received is below a reasonable standard then we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to advise you further. Call us for free initial advice on 0844 245 6602.
By clinical negligence solicitor, Tom Mooney