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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Barrow hospital midwife trial day one - accused over babies’ deaths tells of unit’s ‘turmoil’

A BARROW hospital midwife accused of failing to maintain patient records in cases where two babies died said she was working under immense emotional pressure on one occasion as the maternity unit “was in turmoil”.

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‘reflected on tragedy’ Former midwife Jennifer Bowns

Jennifer Emma Bowns, who has since been sacked as a midwife at Furness General Hospital, in Barrow, yesterday admitted failing to undertake a risk assessment on a patient – known as Patient B – on September 27, 2011, making inaccurate entries regarding foetal heart rate in patient records and failing to tell a doctor a patient had gone into labour following the identification of the risk of shoulder dysocia.

She denied failing to undertaking a full assessment of Patient A when she took over her care on July 27, 2011 and not recording the reasons for an internal examination or making accurate records. She admitted she did not identify the retrospective entries in Patient A’s records.

Bowns also denied that her fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct when she appeared before a disciplinary panel at The Nursing and Midwifery Council, London.

The charges relate to when she worked for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and concern two incidents where babies died in the maternity unit at FGH.

Giving evidence, Louise Jackson, a midwife who also works for the trust, said she could not understand why Bowns had not made correct notes on Patient A or why she had not explained in the care plan why she had carried out an internal examination.

She also could not understand why a flex and rotate check was mentioned. She said that this procedure should only ever be carried out in the second stage of labour or it could cause a prolapse. Bowns has denied carrying out the procedure.

The baby died not long after birth, the panel heard.

Midwife Jill Crow, who was brought in to examine the incident in September 2011, said there was a culture at that time of midwives working on their own.

Giving evidence, Bowns said she had been a midwife for 27 years and was a supervisor.

She admitted she had made mistakes in the handling of patient B’s care and with hindsight would have acted differently but she had been busy and they were short staffed.

Bowns said the woman’s partner was rubbing her stomach and that seemed to be calming her and in retrospect she should have put the heart monitor on to check the foetus. The baby was stillborn.

Bowns expressed her deepest sympathies to the family.

She added: “I admit the allegations and in similar circumstances I would act differently now. In September 2011 the unit was in turmoil and under scrutiny.

“Staff were off sick and the emotional pressure was immense. This played a big part in my decisions at this point.”

She said in the case of Patient A she thought by examining the mother internally she could give her a “psychological boost”.

The hearing continues,

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