'Sub-optimal' midwife still working under new name

A former Blenheim midwife who told a teenage mother to keep her legs together and be "ladylike" after a tear meant she could barely walk is continuing to practise in Northland under a different name.

A Human Rights Review Tribunal decision found that Natasha Thomson had breached the Health and Disability Commission Code of Consumers' Rights by failing to provide services of an appropriate standard to a young mother.

The 16-year-old mother was hospitalised and required surgery for a tear suffered in the 2012 birth of her baby.

New Zealand Midwifery Council chief executive officer Sharron Cole said Thomson was practising as a midwife in Northland.

The council's online register of midwives does not include any practising midwives with the name Natasha Thomson.

Cole confirmed on Wednesday that Thomson was practising under the name Natasha Hawtin. She was unable to say why or when Thomson changed her name.

A listing on the council's online register records Hawtin as working in Whangarei.

There are no conditions on her practising certificate, which expires at the end of this month.

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Midwife told teen to 'be ladylike'

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The Health and Disability Commissioner expressed reservations in a 2013 decision about an unnamed midwife whose case had striking similarities to Thomson's.

The midwife's response to the investigation led to her being referred to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

The commission did not respond to a request for confirmation that Thomson was the midwife involved in the case.

However, the age of the patient, the timing of the birth, the patient's injury and treatment, and the midwife's level of experience are the same in both decisions.

Both noted that the midwife told her patient she would be "looked down on" if she attended antenatal cases, and that she should be "ladylike" and keep her legs together following a tear to the patient's perineum during the birth.

The Health and Disability Commissioner was concerned that the midwife, believed to be Thomson, appeared to lack insight into her lack of compassion toward her patient and her inadequate clinical competency.

The commissioner was also concerned about the records the midwife kept, saying she attended the birth even though she arrived six minutes after the baby was born and did not have scissors with her to cut the umbilical cord.

"[The midwife's] records were superficial and, in some respects, misleading," the decision said.

"She recorded that she had attended the birth when she did not do so, and failed to note the fact that she had attended only the delivery of the placenta."

Overall the care provided was "seriously sub-optimal", the decision said.

The Commission recommended the midwife apologise to her patient and provide a written report to the commission reflecting on her failings in the case and changes she made to her practice.

She had to undergo a special Midwifery Standards review through the New Zealand College of Midwives, with a particular focus on her documentation.

 - The Marlborough Express

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