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Midwives ‘left baby in cupboard’, NMC panel told

Two midwives responsible for a sick woman’s four-day-old baby lay the child on its stomach and left it in a stationery cupboard, a tribunal has heard.

Yvonne Musonda-Malata and Christine Onade are accused of failing to provide appropriate clinical care to a baby while working on a night shift at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, north-east London.

Ms Malata, 35, who has worked as a nurse since 2004, was responsible for looking after the baby while its mother caught up on sleep, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was told.

It is alleged that she tended to the baby, known as Baby A, in a cot by the midwives station before moving it into a large stationery cupboard after it became unsettled.

She and Ms Onade, 46, are also accused of failing to record any feeds given to Baby A. Both midwives deny all allegations.

The alleged incident, which occurred on April 18, 2011, was reported by Alex Curtis, a nursery nurse at the hospital who found the baby alone in the cupboard at about 6:30am.

She told the tribunal: “I went to the post-natal ward to get an envelope from the stationery cupboard and found a baby lying on its tummy on its own.

“The baby was in the cot just behind the door. I cannot remember whether the light was off or on, but I saw baby on its front and went to check if it was breathing.

“This was an unusual occurrence. We always lie a baby on its back as there is a risk of cot death.

“If, as a nursery nurse, I took responsibility for a parent’s baby, I would never leave it alone. If I needed to go off and do something, I would ask another nurse to look after the baby.”

Derek Zeitlin, the case presenter at the NMC, said: “The baby’s mother has a health condition and it is vitally important for her to get a good night’s sleep. Her husband therefore invited the midwives to take the baby away so that his wife could get a good night’s sleep.

“That decision was not taken lightly. The nurse looking after Baby A’s mother was involved in that decision. It was the right thing to do.”

Mr Zeitlin explained that the baby became unsettled at “various points” throughout the night, adding that there was “no specific place to put a baby” while it was looked after in the post-natal ward.

He said that Ms Malata and Ms Onade had both confirmed that Ms Malata had placed Baby A in a cot in the doorway of the cupboard, but claim that the door was kept open.

Mr Zeitlin said: “There came a stage where Ms Malata was called away to another patient and was away for about 20 minutes.

“The next thing that happened was a member of the nursing staff went to the cupboard and was shocked to find Baby A inside.

“The door was closed. The baby was found on its stomach, but babies are always placed on their back to avoid cot death.”

He added: “There were no feeding charts for Baby A. The reality of that was that entries that were made about feeds didn’t coincide with what the registrants record about the feeds.

“There was a question of whether Baby A may have been overfed.”

The hearing continues.

 

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Too much to do, not enough staff, as usual But surely there should have been a nursery and staff there to supervice

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  • Just get rid of the pair of them! Dreadful conduct-end of.

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  • Absoulutely disgusting, this is common knowledge that baby should not be laid on their front. What they did was terrible and they both need to be struck off and made an example off. It is nurses like this who are giving all other nurses/midwifes a bad name.

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  • Here here - Anon 12-nov-2013 3.43pm - The only way we will improve the profession is to get rid of those that should not be in it!!

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  • Come on NT. Consistency required here, either comments on NMC hearings are open or they aren't.

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  • “If, as a nursery nurse, I took responsibility for a parent’s baby, I would never leave it alone. If I needed to go off and do something, I would ask another nurse to look after the baby.”

    A nursery nurse is not a Midwife and does not have the same responsiblities either, does she know this?

    In my experience, as a Midwife on a Post Natal Ward, it is simply not possible to keep all the babies in ones sight, all the time; there are always more than one baby and their Mums to keep an eye on; but I agree that kid should have gone into the nursery - the Nursery staff had offered to take it.

    Certainly finding the child in the cupboard is inappropriate. But, there was only one witness who claims that the child was actually in the cupboard, so who knows really.

    But since both Midwives deny most of what they have been reported for, and one( found not guilty, by the way) who says she wasn't ever there, I wonder if this isn't an attempt to get rid of unwanted staff... or the settlement of a grudge.I smell a fish...


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  • When I was a student, staff were routinely asked to go to other short-staffed wards, leaving students to fill the place in their limited way. Whatever quota of staff they had, the reality was quite different: staff being moved to other wards to cover; staff frequently going off the ward for accepted reasons:collecting drugs, blood, other work-related necessities. The degree to which any of this was documented is unknowable - how/when are staff ever asked to clock-in/out when entering/leaving a ward? Some wards have staff toilets, others are in the corridor. I do not know if staff having to cover other wards was officially documenting in a clock-in/out fashion, or generally written-up by a ward manager. We had the same staff quota regardless of whether a patient could feed and wash themselves, or if they required all-care.

    I previously worked in a factory, and there was clocking-in/out for movement into/out of the factory space, whatever the reason. In reality, within a hospital, if a member of staff is not there, you do not know exactly where they are, even if you know why they left the ward. Hospitals are big places.

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