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Midwife put mums-to-be at risk, tribunal hears

The former Ipswich Hospital midwife had her case heard at a tribunal earlier this month, where a panel found she put two pregnant women at risk (stock picture) Picture: Katie Collins/PA Wire

The former Ipswich Hospital midwife had her case heard at a tribunal earlier this month, where a panel found she put two pregnant women at risk (stock picture) Picture: Katie Collins/PA Wire

A former Ipswich Hospital midwife will have restrictions imposed on future employment after a tribunal found her actions put two pregnant women at risk of “serious harm”.

Ms Burniston was employed as a midwife at Ipswich Hospital until she resigned in late 2018 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMs Burniston was employed as a midwife at Ipswich Hospital until she resigned in late 2018 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel heard on July 2 that Catherine Burniston previously had an “unblemished career” since 2006.

But the midwife’s actions over two night shifts in January and February 2018 were found to serious enough that they amounted to misconduct, the tribunal heard.

On both occasions, the NMC panel heard Ms Burniston failed to adequately record foetal heartbeats.

During the first incident on January 1, she also decided not to move the mum-to-be from the hospital’s birthing centre into the delivery suite despite concerns among other midwives over a deceleration in the baby’s heartbeat.

The second incident happened overnight on February 2-3 while she was caring for a woman experiencing a high-risk labour – she was being induced, because her baby was small for its gestational age.

Assessments of the woman’s dilation and baby’s heartbeat were again found to be inadequate and a midwife who took over from Ms Burniston escalated the case with a doctor and recommended a caesarean, given the slow progress of the birth.

The baby, delivered naturally, was transferred to the neonatal unit for respiratory distress syndrome shortly after birth.

A hospital investigation into this second incident found the midwife’s care was inadequate and she was demoted and put on a performance programme.

But the midwife resigned at end of December 2018 before she could complete this.

A statement from Ms Burniston was read to the panel, which stated she was “devastated” her actions “resulted in a woman being unable to bond with her baby” and other long-term implications, further details of which were not specified.

“It was never my intention to cause any harm, physical or emotional to any woman or her family,” she added.

The panel found her actions were a “serious departure” from standards expected and put both patients and their babies at risk of “serious harm”.

However, it was of the view that Ms Burniston should be able to continue working as a midwife with appropriate safeguards with an 18-month conditions of practice order imposed.

It means that in any future employment, the midwife must ensure she is supervised at all times, work on a personal development plan, and tell the NMC where she is working.

Ipswich Hospital bosses said they did not wish to comment further.


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