Advising with empathy and experience

Former midwife struck off.

A former midwife whose behaviour was said to have contributed to the deaths of two babies at Furness General Hospital is to be struck off, a misconduct tribunal has ruled.

Marie Ratcliffe, who worked at the hospital in Barrow, Cumbria, where a report following an investigation set up by health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said midwives were so cavalier they became known as “The Musketeers”, did not fight the claims against her.

The initial Morecambe Bay investigation in 2013 investigated concerns over what appeared to be several unnecessary deaths, including one mother and 11 babies, within what became University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).

Marie Ratcliffe did not attend the start of her hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London, and did not send a lawyer to represent her. At the end of the hearing she was ordered to be struck off the register.

The panel heard that she accepted allegations relating to her involvement in the treatment of 14 patients at the hospital between February 2004 and September 2013.

The panel said Mrs Ratcliffe's failings were numerous and involved 14 patients and 68 proved charges. It accepted that Mrs Ratcliffe had demonstrated some remorse in her letter, but decided she had sought to distance herself from her own culpability.

She had demonstrated an “uncaring and unempathetic approach” to patients, and a cavalier approach to monitoring the vitals of patients and unborn babies.

"The panel is of the view that it is this attitude that underpinned her failings," it said. A statement added: "Today, an independent panel removed Marie Ratcliffe from the NMC register after it found her fitness to practise to be currently impaired.

"She is the first of a number of midwives from the Morecambe Bay trust being investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to go to a conduct and competence hearing.

"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. We are now seeking an 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."