Britain's worst midwife: She drops a baby on its head and nearly electrocutes mother in birthing pool by plugging monitor into the mains
23:30 GMT, 12 April 2012
Incompetent: Midwife Diana Warwick, 56, faces being struck off after she was found guilty of 30 blunders
A midwife dropped a baby on its head and nearly electrocuted a woman who was giving birth, in a series of terrifying blunders.
Diana Warwick, 56, faces being struck off or suspended after she was found guilty of 30 allegations of misconduct.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council heard Warwick, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, had been pushing a baby along in a cot when it fell out, landing face down.
She also risked electrocuting a woman in a birthing pool by using equipment to monitor the baby’s heartbeat that was plugged in at the mains socket.
On another occasion she sprayed a bed-bound patient’s deodorant on to her armpits and polished her shoes with body wipes.
Yesterday, Warwick said she had been distracted by her mother’s illness at the time of the incidents, which took place at West Cumberland Hospital, near Whitehaven, between May 2005 and April 2006.
She said she ‘accidentally’ dropped the baby, on September 1, 2005, and argued that witnesses had given different accounts. But NMC panel chairman, Andrew Coleman, said: ‘We have heard that Miss Warwick was pushing a baby on its cot on a metal frame.
‘As she approached a door she pulled the cot inside the metal frame and it slipped up and off the frame. Part of the cot fell on the floor and the baby fell flat down on its face. The panel accepts the cause of the accident was carelessness.’
Salim Hafejee, representing the NMC at the fitness to practise hearing, said: ‘The failings go beyond simply the lack of clinical care. There were failures around attitude and understanding and of concepts of care. Tactlessness, thoughtlessness and carelessness are all words which would fit very well.’
Referring to the incident in which she dropped the baby, he said: ‘Despite her training, she still made a very fundamental and basic mistake.
‘Any member of the public would worry that such a basic mistake would be made by a midwife.’
He also accused the midwife of ‘utterly disregarding patients’ needs’ and a ‘lack of competence’ .
On one occasion, colleagues discovered Warwick using cardiotocography equipment to monitor a pregnant woman in a birthing pool. The equipment was plugged into an electric socket only two feet away from the water.
‘The failings go beyond simply the lack
of clinical care. There were failures around attitude and understanding
and of concepts of care’ Salim Hafejee, representing the NMC
Warwick should have been using a handheld battery-powered aqua sonic aid, the panel ruled.
It also found that the midwife took deodorant from a female patient’s bag while she was recovering from a caesarean section at the hospital, and sprayed it on her own armpits.
She was found to have put incontinence pads on the same woman’s legs while she was in bed, and used body wipes to clean her shoes.
The woman made a complaint about Warwick’s behaviour and the NMC panel ruled it was unlikely that this allegation was invented.
It also heard that on another occasion, Warwick held her face just six inches from a pregnant woman and bellowed ‘push!’.
She later shouted at a pregnant woman again, despite being told it was unacceptable.
The midwife also failed to inform bosses that she was unfamiliar with various birth equipment and procedures. As a result she failed to take two blood pressure readings when she was supposed to.
Warwick became a registered nurse in 1981, and a midwife in 1993. But after a lengthy break from work, she did not complete a return to practice course as required between May 16, 2005 and April 25, 2006.
She admitted she had failed to demonstrate the necessary skill to perform without supervision.
Blunders: West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, where Warwick dropped a baby on its face and nearly electrocuted a woman in a birthing pool
Warwick claimed the NMC had treated her unfairly, describing the tribunal process as a ‘merry-go-round’. She also criticised the NMC for taking five years to hear her case.
But at a Central London hearing yesterday she was accused of contriving to delay the case after it emerged it has so far taken twice as long as it should have.
Mr Hafejee said nine previous hearings had suffered from delays and adjournments after the midwife turned up late. Warwick, who also arrived an hour-and-a-half late to yesterday’s hearing, denied this claim.
She has previously compared her case to the investigation into the Derrick Bird shootings, saying: ‘In Cumbria there was a shooting by a taxi driver, that case had many scenes and each one was carefully examined by the police.
‘That process should have been required of the NMC. I would have been better off in a magistrates’ court. The case against me is fundamentally flawed.’
The panel also heard that she was fined after driving a car without insurance on four separate occasions in 2005.
The hearing is set to rule on whether she is fit to practise today.