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Midwives' failings led to death of nine-day-old baby, NMC rules

Failings of Lindsey Biggs and Holly Parkinson caused Joshua Titcombe to lose a 'significant chance' of survival.

Furness_General_Hospital-Alamy
Furness General Hospital, Cumbria Picture: Alamy

Two midwives failed in their duty to properly care for a baby boy who died nine days after birth, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has ruled.

Joshua Titcombe died after developing pneumococcal septicaemia and a lung haemorrhage at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria in October 2008.

A fitness to practise hearing heard how the failings of midwives Lindsey Biggs and Holly Parkinson caused Joshua to lose a significant chance of survival.

The NMC panel heard neither midwife referred Joshua, known as baby A during the hearing, to a paediatrician as they should have done when they found he had a low temperature.

Guarded and distanced

Panel chairman Stuart Gray said both women had been ‘guarded’ in giving their evidence and at times appeared to have ‘distanced’ and ‘detached’ themselves from the events of the day.

Ms Biggs, the panel concluded, failed to make sure three-hourly observations were conducted on the newborn, failed to get a paediatrician when she saw he had a low temperature and failed to properly record notes on his mother, who was also being cared for at the hospital.

Ms Parkinson also failed to get a doctor when she recorded Joshua's low temperature. She had already admitted failing to document the paediatrician's advice that observations should be carried out.

Their failures after seeing Joshua's low temperature ‘denied baby A any opportunity to be seen, assessed and treated by a paediatrician’, Mr Gray said.

‘This was the significant chance for baby A that was lost,’ he added.

The hearings to consider any sanctions against Ms Biggs and Ms Parkinson are scheduled to take place, separately, in October.

Serious infection

An inquest in 2011 heard midwives repeatedly missed chances to spot and treat a serious infection which led to Joshua's death.

Joshua’s father James and mother Hoa claimed they repeatedly told hospital staff Hoa had felt unwell the day before giving birth, and was concerned about catching an infection from her young daughter who had been sent home ill from nursery.

Mr Titcombe said of the NMC hearing outcome: ‘It is a relief that the truth has finally been proven.

‘If we had been told the truth to start with then the last seven years would have been much easier for us, we wouldn't have wanted any action or blame against the midwives.’

'Lethal mix'

An inquiry into the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Furness General Hospital, found last year that a ‘lethal mix’ of failures led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013.

Ms Biggs was dismissed from the hospital earlier this year following a separate ‘serious clinical incident’.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust launched an investigation after the death of a baby in February.

Dismissing the midwife the trust concluded her conduct ‘fell fundamentally below our acceptable standards’.

Earlier hearings in relation to Joshua's death cleared two other midwives, Gretta Dixon and Catherine McCullough, of any wrongdoing.

Another midwife, Marie Ratcliffe, was struck off late last year in relation to the case.

A sixth, Joanne Watts, is scheduled for a hearing expected to take place later this year, and a seventh, who has not been named, is under investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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