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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK


Midwife 'lost control' of breech birth

The baby was delivered at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

A baby died after a midwife who specialised in natural birth techniques "lost control" of its breech delivery, an inquiry was told on Monday.

The nurses' regulatory body the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) heard that Caroline Flint's errors left the mother lying in a pool of blood.

UKCC solicitor Katrina Wingfield told a professional conduct committee that Ms Flint appeared "not to be functioning" as the crisis developed at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in November 1995.

Ms Flint was the first elected president of the Royal College of Midwives. She founded the first private birth centre in Britain where women can have babies as if they were at home.

Miss Wingfield said the patient, named only as "Mrs A", was a newly qualified midwife working at Guy's Hospital.

When she became pregnant she consulted Ms Flint because she ideally wanted a home delivery.

However, it was discovered that the baby was in the breech position and she had to be transferred to the Chelsea and Westminster.

Poor information

It is alleged that Ms Flint failed to give Mrs A and her partner enough information to enable them to make an informed choice about the carrying out of scans of the baby.

After Mrs A's waters broke it was decided she must be admitted to hospital for delivery.

Ms Flint assured the patient that her unborn baby was fine and showed her photos purporting to show that vaginal delivery of breech babies was safe, that she had done several herself and that it was best done in the standing position.

She is alleged to have discouraged Mrs A from considering a Caesarean Section for her breech baby.

But the baby's delivery was extremely difficult and a doctor was called in to deliver the baby.

Mrs A then collapsed and was left lying in a pool of blood.

Despite a half hour struggle to save the baby's life, she died.

Ms Flint admits failing to carry out adequate maternal observations and failing to keep accurate and adequate notes during the delivery. She denies five other charges of misconduct.

Hours of agony

Mrs A told the committee of her hours of agony as she waited to give birth to her baby daughter while Ms Flint "just popped in and out" of her room at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.

She said: "I think we were given a choice between a vaginal birth and a Caesarean Section, but choice without information is no choice."

Mrs A told the committee that she repeatedly asked Ms Flint whether a vaginal birth for her baby daughter might be dangerous but was reassured everything was all right.

As her pregnancy developed, staff at Guy's had expressed concern about her apparent lack of weight gain.

Ms Flint, however, had said that, although Mrs A could have scans whenever she wanted, she did not believe they were a necessity.

Mrs A said she had opted for Ms Flint because she wanted an independent midwife so that she could have her baby at home if it were at all possible.

However, she had accepted her advice that she ought to be delivered in hospital.

Mrs A had promised that her wish that the baby should not be delivered at Guy's would be complied with and had arranged for the delivery at the Chelsea and Westminster.

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