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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK


Midwife cautioned after baby's death

The baby was delivered at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

A leading midwife who champions natural childbirth has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct after the death of a baby.

The BBC's Bob Sinkinson: "Ms Flint said she'd felt numbed and shocked when she realised the baby had died"
Caroline Flint, who was the first elected President of the Royal College of Midwives, has been formally cautioned by the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC).

It found that she failed to carry out a series of duties, including monitoring the mother's condition and keeping accurate notes.

The verdict means Ms Flint, 57, who has pioneered the use of home births despite widespread opposition in her profession, will have a caution placed against her entry on the register of midwives for five years, but will still be allowed to practise.

Ms Flint was found guilty of three charges over her care of the baby, named as Alicia, during the mother's pregnancy and labour in 1995.

Home births pioneer

She had admitted to failing to carry out adequate observations and keeping adequate notes.

A third allegation, which was also proved, was that she failed to recognise maternal collapse during the labour, which ended with the death of baby Alicia 30 minutes after she was born at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

A further four claims of misconduct against Ms Flint, including that she failed to get the help of a doctor, were found to be unproven.

The disciplinary committee had heard that Alicia's mother, known only as "Mrs A", who was herself a midwife, had consulted Ms Flint because she ideally wanted a home birth.

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

Not directly responsible for death

It was 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.

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

But Ms Flint was not found to have been directly responsible for the death of the baby.

A post-mortem found that 12-24 hours before labour, the baby had been starved of oxygen and would not have survived the delivery.

A panel of the professional conduct committee of the UKCC found that despite Ms Flint's errors she was still safe to continue working.

Its Director of Professional Conduct, Mandie Lavin, said: "The issuing of a formal caution to Ms Flint demonstrates that, while she has been found to have committee professional misconduct on this occasion, the committee believes that she is safe to practise.

"The committee has given very careful consideration to all the evidence."

Ms Flint founded the first private birth clinic in Britain where women can have babies as if they are at home.

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