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Midwife struck off for ‘numerous failings’ at Morecambe Bay


The first of a number of midwives facing fitness to practise cases in relation to baby deaths at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has been struck off.

Marie Ratcliffe, a former band 7 midwife at Furness General Hospital, accepted 68 charges relating to 14 patients, including two babies that died.

She was accused of a string of allegations between 2004 and 2013, including failing to adequately monitor patients, record key observations in patient notes or request assistance from doctors.

In its summing up, the NMC panel concluded that Ms Ratcliffe’s “failings were numerous”.

“The failings were wide-ranging and repeated over a 10-year period. Further, Ms Ratcliffe’s failings were serious in that they contributed to the deaths of Baby B and Baby C,” it said.

The panel described her contribution to the two baby deaths as a “serious departure from the standards expected of a registered midwife”.

It added: “The panel is of the view that her persistent and repeated failures in care along with her lack of insight into their consequences are demonstrative of a deep seated attitudinal problem.”

“Her conduct has fundamentally breached public trust”

NMC panel

The panel concluded that being removed from the register was the “only sanction which will be sufficient to protect the public interest and to maintain confidence in the profession”.

A spokesman for the Nursing and Midwifery Council said the panel removed Marie Ratcliffe from the nursing register “after it found her fitness to practise to be currently impaired.

She is the first of a number of midwives – thought to total seven or eight – being investigated by the NMC to go to a conduct and competence hearing in relation to the events at Morecambe Bay.

“The tragic events at the trust led to two independent reports and a significant review of midwifery regulation, and particularly the role of midwifery supervision,” said the spokeswoman.

“We are now seeking the urgent change to our legislation to enable us to deal with cases like this more quickly and to remove supervision from our remit and to give us direct control of regulatory decisions affecting midwives,” she added.

Ms Ratcliffe chose not to attend her hearing, which took place between 27 April and 20 May, and has since retired from the NHS.

She was previously subjected to an 18 months interim suspension order by the NMC early in 2014.

An independent inquiry, published in March this year into the failings at Morecambe Bay, found failures at the trust led to avoidable deaths of at least 11 babies and one mother.

An initial internal review, carried out by the trust in 2004, criticised Marie Ratcliffe following the death of baby Elleanor Bennett.

A later inquest in 2013 found she was starved of oxygen, after her heartbeat was not monitored for 43 minutes before she was delivered. Her parents were never told about the 2004 review.


Readers' comments (24)

  • Tragic awful and so very, very sad for all involved ....however I doubt very much that concerns weren't raised by other staff during the time periods stated and if so they were obviously ignored or as often happens swept under the carpet by senior staff?

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  • The fact that there are such a high number of individuals all in the same place must point the finger of suspicion at their line managers and their apparent inability to maintain high standards of professional behaviours. Are cases against them outstanding or have they already been dealt with?

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  • Pussy

    And how long had she been failing? Why wasn't it nipped in the bud? absolutely tragic this dangerous woman was allowed to practice for so long. Some managment. A total travesty of the first order.

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  • I agree with Pussy's comment. And that lady is a former band 7- should be a model of perfection, instead she's been a model of failing.

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  • I expect she will retire on a hefty Band 7 Pension too !.

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  • Pussy

    The more I read this the angrier I become. The whole bloody lot of then inc. NMC all being ponderous and basically useless and in the meantime lives are lost. That Ratcliffe woman should go to prison- nothing less. I hope she can't sleep at night along with the other perpetrators involved hiding behind each other and quivering.

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  • Manager's fault. Always is. Nurses make very poor managers.

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  • When are Senior Board Level nurse/midwife "managers " going to be struck off?

    The failure of these managers also contributed to these avoidable deaths !

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  • I agree with Pussy, total failure to act appropriately by the NMC and management of the clinical area. Peoples lives changed forever due to this 'professional' midwife. An 18 month interim suspension order, why did it take so long when she was obviously a danger to patients? She should be prosecuted for failing to act.

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  • From MidStaffs, Stepping Hill & ABMU the litany of poor behaviour & deaths continues

    Its all about behaviour & leadership
    Why does the NHS have such poor leadership when so many are getting good money for exhibiting it?

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