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Midwife faces being struck off over care of baby who died at nine days old

Published 18/08/2016

Joshua Titcombe survived for only nine days.
Joshua Titcombe survived for only nine days.

A midwife faces being struck off in relation to her role in the care of a baby at a beleaguered maternity unit.

Joshua Titcombe was one of 11 babies to die after being treated at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in a nine-year period.

Holly Parkinson, one of the midwives caring for him at Furness General hospital after his birth in 2008, is one of a number investigated after an inquest five years ago heard staff repeatedly missed chances to spot and treat a serious infection which led to Joshua's death.

She has apologised to the newborn's family and appeared remorseful but, eight years later remains in denial about her role in what happened, a panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London on Thursday said.

Baby Joshua, from Dalton-in-Furness, died nine days after he was born, after suffering pneumococcal septicaemia and a lung haemorrhage.

A hearing last month found Mrs Parkinson, who had been working as a midwife for five years at the time, failed in her duty to look after him properly, causing him to lose a significant chance of survival.

She did not get a doctor when she recorded Joshua's low temperature, and admitted failing to document the paediatrician's advice that observations should be carried out on the newborn.

The failures "denied baby A any opportunity to be seen, assessed and treated by a paediatrician", the panel said.

Chairman Stuart Gray said, after hearing further evidence from her this week, she appeared to still be in denial and "not fully accepting" of the impact of her actions.

Mrs Parkinson, who has worked as a quality and safety midwife within the maternity risk management team for almost two years, was at times "evasive, controlled and detached" when explaining what happened, Mr Gray said.

She now faces being sanctioned after the panel decided her fitness to practice is impaired.

Reading their ruling Mr Gray said: "There is a risk, albeit a low risk, of repetition which could once again place patients at risk of harm."

He added that Mrs Parkinson's "fitness to practice both on the grounds of public protection and in the public interest is currently impaired by reason of your misconduct".

The hearing for Mrs Parkinson was adjourned until Friday.

Her former colleague, Lindsey Biggs, is due to hear in October whether she is to be sanctioned.

At a hearing last month she was found to have failed to make sure 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 Hoa, who was also being cared for at the hospital.

Joshua died after being transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he died on November 5 2008. Earlier hearings in relation to his care cleared two midwives, Gretta Dixon and Catherine McCullough, of any wrongdoing.

Another, Joanne Watts, is scheduled for a hearing expected to take place later this year, and another midwife, who has not been named, is currently being investigated, the NMC said.

Marie Ratcliffe was struck off in 2015 in relation to the deaths of two other babies who had been cared for within the trust.

An inquiry led by Dr Bill Kirkup found last year that a "lethal mix'' of failures at the trust led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013.

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