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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Barrow hospital midwife trial day two - Manager ‘laughed’ at midwife when she raised staffing fears

A FORMER Furness General Hospital midwife who was involved in two labours where babies died has told how she wants to be able to practise again as midwifery is her “passion”.

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‘reflected on tragedy’ Former midwife Jennifer Bowns

Jennifer Bowns also said she did not receive adequate support after the first baby lost its life and “the tragedy weighed heavily” on her mind.

She also claimed that when she asked for help due to staffing shortages, her ward manager just laughed at her and she did not press the point.

Yesterday she told a disciplinary panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Old Bailey, London, that since completing 450 hours of supervised practice at a Plymouth hospital she could see errors she had made and “reflected deeply” on her actions.

She said this training and the work at the Plymouth hospital had “opened her eyes to 21st century midwifery”.

After several hours of deliberation, the panel said yesterday that they were “satisfied” that she did not fail to record and/or undertake a full assessment of Patient A on taking over her care.

The chairman of the panel, Mr Tim Skelton said allegations of not recording the reasons for an internal examination of the same patient were not proved. But part of the charge that she failed to keep an accurate record of the procedure was proved.

He added: “The panel do think that your entries you made about this could have led to confusion. Following the examination you did not make an accurate record of your findings.”

On Monday Bowns, who has since been dismissed as a midwife at Furness General Hospital, in Barrow, admitted, in relation to Patient B, failing to undertake a risk assessment 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.

Bowns claimed again yesterday that she had been under “extreme pressure” at this point and was supporting other members of staff.

She said the hospital ward was under close scrutiny and was short-staffed.

She added: “I went to the ward manager who just laughed at me when I asked for help. I realise now I should have pushed my concerns about staffing levels.

“In hindsight the handling of patient care was disjointed.

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

Bowns denies that her fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct and yesterday gave evidence to the panel to prove to them she should be allowed to work as a midwife once again.

She said: “Midwifery is my passion.”

Bowns said that coming to Cumbria from Glasgow has been “like stepping back in time”.

When asked by the panel what she could say to reassure the public and her colleagues that she should return to midwifery she said: “If I was seeing you as a patient I would want to look after you with love and attention.

“I would also document everything to make sure you were safe in my care.”

The hearing continues.

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