The final midwife implicated in the care scandal at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has been struck off today by Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The outcome of Jeanette Parkinson’s fitness to practise hearing “brings to a close” cases involving midwives linked to the high profile baby deaths at Morecambe Bay, noted the regulator.
“As I have said before, these cases have taken far too long to conclude”
The former maternity risk manager was the leader of a group of seven midwives known as the “Musketeers” at the trust linked to a series of baby deaths between 2004 and 2012. She was also appointed as a supervisor of midwives by the Local Supervising Authority from November 2002.
The NMC has faced criticism for the length of time it has taken to deal with the midwives linked to poor care at the trust, which was at the centre of an inquiry by Dr Bill Kirkup in 2015.
His report found failings at the trust led to the avoidable deaths of at least 11 babies and one mother at its Furness General Hospital.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith has previously acknowledged the regulator took too long to deal with the cases, after it delayed decisions while other investigations took place.
In February this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered an investigation by the Professional Standards Authority into the regulator’s handling of the Morecambe Bay care scandal.
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Following the conclusion of the hearing today, an independent panel agreed that the fitness to practise of Ms Parkinson was impaired and imposed a striking off order – though she retired around four years ago and is, therefore, unlikely to attempt to practise.
Ms Parkinson faced charges relating to inadequate root cause analyses she undertook following failings in the delivery of care provided by multiple midwives at Morecambe Bay, said the NMC.
Prior to the hearing, Ms Parkinson admitted serious charges against her and accepted that a striking off order would be the appropriate sanction.
As she had accepted charges and agreed to a striking off order, the NMC proposed a consensual panel determination, meaning the facts of the case and the proposed sanction accepted by Ms Parkinson were put before an independent panel.
The panel agreed with the proposed sanction and Ms Parkinson was subsequently struck off the register.
The regulator stated that the panel took account of the views of families involved when reaching their decision.
Ms Smith said: “It is clear that the conduct of Jeanette Parkinson fell well below the standards expected of a midwife, therefore, it is right that she has been struck off.
“The conclusion of this case brings to a close the fitness to practise cases relating to failings in midwifery care at Morecambe Bay,” she said.
“As I have said before, these cases have taken far too long to conclude and I would like to sincerely apologise again to the families affected,” she said. “As an organisation, we are reflecting on what can be done to make sure cases do not take so long to conclude in future.
“In addition to a number of internal steps we have already taken to improve the way we handle cases, we will also shortly start working with the Professional Standards Authority on the lessons learned review we announced in February,” she added.