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Mother who’s baby died in hospital gives evidence against midwife

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

The mother of a baby who died shortly after birth at Barrow’s Furness General Hospital in 2004 has described how the treatment she received by midwife, Marie Ratcliffe, was one of the “most heartbreaking” ordeals she ever had to deal with. 

Lesley Bennett, whose baby Elleanor died 27 hours after being born, informed the hearing that she instinctively knew that there was something wrong with her baby, but that the necessary steps were not taken by Ms Ratcliffe to deal with the emergency. Mrs Bennett was giving evidence at a Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct hearing investigating allegations of neglect and misconduct by Marie Ratcliffe between 2004 and 2013.

Ms Ratcliffe elected not to attend the hearing in London, accepting more than 60 allegations of misconduct leading to the deaths of Elleanor Bennet in 2004 and Alex Davey-Brady in 2008. Ratcliffe was suspended for 18 months in February 2014 by the Nursing and Midwifery Council at a conduct hearing for contributing to the death and/or causing a baby to lose a significant chance of survival. She is accused of failing to monitor foetal heart rate adequately and failing to seek the medical assistance of a doctor or other medical professional when the heart rate could not be properly monitored.

Ratcliffe was “dismissive” during her “difficult” labour

Mrs Bennett informed the hearing that she knew that there was something wrong as soon as her “purply-blue” newborn daughter was handed to her. She described her daughter’s short life as being “painfully etched” on her mind.  She went on to describe how terrified she had been throughout the nine months of her following pregnancy and how she had opted for sterilisation during the Caesarean birth of her son. 

She gave the hearing her view that if the birth of Elleanor had been handled correctly she would no doubt have a healthy baby girl, and went on to state that she felt that Ratcliffe should not be able to practise on a ward. She described Ratcliffe as “dismissive” during her “difficult” labour and stated that Ratcliffe did not inform her husband Gary that there was a problem monitoring the foetal heart rate.

Ratcliffe has confirmed that she has no intention of returning to her profession and says that she will regret her actions for the rest of her life. The hearing is expected to continue until 15 May.

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