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Morecambe midwife struck off

A midwife involved in the Morecambe Bay scandal, Jeanette Parkinson, has been struck off the register by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Ms Parkinson came before a misconduct hearing by the NMC on 13 June after admitting that her fitness to practise was impaired.

Ms Parkinson had agreed to a Consensual Panel Determination (CPD), which meant that the facts of the case and the proposed sanction were put before an independent panel.

The panel agreed to strike her off the register, meaning she will no longer be permitted to practice as a midwife.

The charges against Ms Parkinson related to inadequate root-cause analyses she undertook following failings in the delivery of care provided by multiple midwives at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Ms Parkinson was the last case linked with the Morcambe Bay scandal to be heard by the NMC. Up to 19 infants and mothers, including nine-day-old Joshua Titcombe, died under the care of Morecambe Trust between 2004 and 2013 in cases where there were significant or major failures of care, an independent investigation found.

Of these, 11 babies and one mother would have survived if they had received adequate care, the investigation found. It was also revealed that poor standards of care were exacerbated by professional rivalries between midwives and doctors.

National scandal

The investigation also found that relations between midwives and doctors in the hospital were 'seriously dysfunctional' and that certain midwives neglected to alert doctors in time about life-threatening patient complications.

Ms Parkinson is the seventh midwife to be investigated by the NMC over the scandal. Two others have been struck off and another suspended.

'Utterly meaningless'

The father of baby Joshua, James Titcombe, described the NMC's decision to strike Ms Parkinson from the register as 'utterly meaningless' because she retired as a midwife five years ago.

He described the 'culture of cover up and denial that was sadly rife at the maternity ward'.

'Jeanette Parkinson was central to this, but when I raised concerns with the NMC in 2009 and repeatedly after, they did absolutely nothing,' he told Nursing in Practice.

'The real question now is how it is possible that the NMC themselves have failed so badly to protect mothers and babies at Morcambe Bay. It's obvious to me that we have a professional regulator of midwives and nurses that simply isn't fit for purpose and that urgent changes are needed.

'If there was a glimmer of something positive from this, it is that the judgement shows that the NMC are capable of acting on the failure of risk management staff to properly investigate and identify problems in care after adverse events.

'If the NMC are clear that this is something they will take very seriously in the future, it should send a strong message to Trusts that they simply must put in place robust systems and processes to ensure incidents are properly investigated, including ensuring staff have the right training and skills and are supported to carry out high quality investigations.'

The NMC declined to comment on Mr Titcombe's points, however, it noted that Ms Parkinson's conduct panel 'took account of the views of families involved when reaching their decision.'

'These cases have taken far too long'

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar said: 'It is clear that the conduct of Jeanette Parkinson fell well below the standards expected of a midwife. Therefore it is right that she has been struck off.

'The conclusion of this case brings to a close the fitness to practise cases relating to failings in midwifery care at Morecambe Bay. As I have said before, these cases have taken far too long to conclude and I would like to sincerely apologise again to the families affected.

'As an organisation, we are reflecting on what can be done to make sure cases do not take so long to conclude in future.

'In addition to a number of internal steps we have already taken to improve the way we handle cases, we will also shortly start working with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) on the lessons learned review we announced in February.'