Midwife censured after baby stillborn in Huntly

Last updated 00:00 18/10/2007

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A midwife has been censured, fined and her practice restricted for a year after a hearing by the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

The tribunal's decision against Sharon Louise Robertson, a midwife in Auckland who used to work in Huntly, followed a hearing in Hamilton on September 17.

The decision comes nearly three years after Aroha Little gave birth to a stillborn baby girl at Huntly Birthcare on November 19, 2004 with only a student midwife present even though she had a history of quick births and low weight births and had earlier reported a slowing foetal heart beat.

The tribunal found that professional misconduct had occurred and censured Ms Robertson.

"Sadly a baby girl was delivered stillborn," the tribunal said.

An inexperienced midwife was left alone to deal with a crisis for which she was completely unprepared.

"So traumatic was the experience for her that she has not practised midwifery since."

Ms Robertson, the leading maternity carer in the case, arrived after the birth, and at least one and a half hours after being called.

The tribunal found Ms Robertson failed to attend in a timely manner, failed to notify the maternity facility of a delay in attending, and failed to provide adequate information to hand over care.

Ms Robertson was fined $2080, payable to the Midwifery Council at $20 a week.

For the 12 months from September 17 Ms Robertson is to undertake no more than four midwivery cases a month.

The tribunal noted by way of context that Ms Robertson was in dispute with her employer and had been up for 24 hours at a difficult birth when the events occurred.

She has since aligned herself with a practice of experienced Auckland midwives and committed to continuing education.

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