Dying baby 'ignored' by midwives

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The Independent Online
THREE hospital midwives, who ignored signs of foetal distress during the birth of a baby who later died, have been found guilty of professional misconduct.

Benjamin Clark died 10 days after birth, following a traumatic 12-hour labour at Kingston hospital, Surrey. His parents, who were at first told the death was a "terrible accident" said it had taken them three years to discover the truth. "Benjamin was a perfectly healthy baby until there was a problem in the labour," his father Andrew Clark said yesterday.

"He died because of the professional misconduct of the three midwives. Since then, we have had three very long, hard and difficult years to get to where we are now, to find out what happened."

Andrew and Michelle Clark said they were given no information about their son's death by the hospital until a professional review concluded in September 1996, more than a year later, that the "likely cause" was an overdose of the drugs used to induce labour, which had resulted in his brain being starved of oxygen.

Last week, the UK Central Council on Nursing and Midwifery found that the midwives Daphne Moore and Nicole Collins failed to recognise signs of abnormal contractions during Ms Clark's labour and had ignored a heart monitor that indicated the foetus was in distress.

Ms Moore was also found to have continued to administer the labour-inducing drug, syntocinon, despite the signs of foetal distress. A third midwife, Helen Kiddell, was found to have failed to keep adequate records. The three were formally cautioned by the council but allowed to continue working.

A spokesman for the UKCC said that it was "extremely rare" for midwives to be found guilty of misconduct. Details of the decision were only disclosed yesterday when the parents spoke about their ordeal to the Press Association.

Mr Clark, a chartered accountant, said: "We often wondered if we had the strength to see it through. We were offered no support from the hospital, until far too late. No grieving relatives should have to wait that long. The pain and suffering when your child dies is the worst thing in the world."

The Clarks have complained to the General Medical Council about the consultant obstetrician who was responsible for Michelle's care, and are planning legal action for compensation from Kingston NHS trust.