Struck off: Midwives who chatted about holidays as birth went wrong

TWO midwives who chatted about their holidays while the baby they were delivering was starved of oxygen have been struck off.

Lyn Foy and Donna Jack failed to carry out numerous checks during the delivery and did not notice the unborn child’s heart rate dropping.

Jessica Penny was left severely disabled, unable to stand unaided and with a vocabulary of just six words.

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The midwives’ failures were described by Jessica’s mother, Lynne, as an “assault” that left her daughter needing constant care, while she herself required counselling and anti-depressants.

Mrs Foy and Ms Jack were charged by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) over the incident, which took place at the Princess Royal Maternity Unit, Glasgow, in August, 2007.

Following a hearing in Edinburgh, the NMC ruled the fitness to practise of both nurses was impaired and effectively banned them from the profession for at least five years. The charges against Mrs Foy, all of which she admitted, included failing to check the foetal heart rate during labour, failing to keep proper records and failing to contact a doctor when she noticed Jessica was in a poor condition.

The NMC said Mrs Foy had a previously unblemished 22-year career and was very “traumatised” by what had happened, and remorseful.

Ms Jack, a registered midwife since 1989, did not attend the hearing and was not represented, although she defended her actions when they were investigated at the time.

It was proven that Ms Jack failed to ensure observations during labour, failed to keep records and failed to call for a doctor for Jessica.

She also failed to communicate effectively with other team members, failed to take adequate steps to resuscitate the baby and failed to start the resuscitation until Jessica was three minutes old.

Earlier in the proceedings, Mrs Penny, from Rutherglen, said there were no concerns during her pregnancy and 
that when first admitted, the labour was “progressing 
positively”.

But the midwives had discouraged her from going to the labour ward, despite slow progress and weakening 
contractions. During this time, Mrs Foy and Ms Jack had a “social chat” between themselves about their holidays, she said.

Of her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, Mrs Penny told the hearing: “She can’t stand on her own. She can crawl and pull herself up on furniture. She wears splints on both feet every day. She’s in a lot of pain at night because she’s tight – we have to do exercises with her. She uses sign language and has six verbal words.”

She added: “It was meant to be one of the happiest days of our lives, but it has turned into a tragic event.”

Mrs Penny and her chef husband, Colin, are now raising £60,000 to pay for an operation in the US to try to improve 
Jessica’s quality of life.