Midwife's failures left off record

NEW NAME: Jennifer Campbell (nee Rowan), above,  has changed her name since the death of the baby of Robert and Linda Barlow, in 2009.
NEW NAME: Jennifer Campbell (nee Rowan), above, has changed her name since the death of the baby of Robert and Linda Barlow, in 2009.

A Hamilton couple is alarmed a midwife criticised over their baby's death can practise without any official record of her involvement in the fatality.

Robert and Linda Barlow are calling for a more transparent midwifery database so expectant parents can scope the track record of midwives.

Their call comes a few months after coroner Gordon Matenga ruled their son Adam died in October 2009 due to intrapartum asphyxia - a lack of oxygen to the brain and vital tissues during labour.

Mr Matenga also outlined a "series of failures" by midwife Jennifer Rowan, now known as Jennifer Campbell, that contributed to Adam's death, including failure to recognise the progress of labour was not normal; failure to convey urgency on transfer to Waikato Hospital staff; and failure by both Miss Rowan (now Campbell) and hospital staff to recognise the urgency of Mrs Barlow's delivery.

The Barlows now find it alarming that the Midwifery Council database does not show any conditions for Ms Campbell even though she was placed under supervision in 2010.

"We are alarmed that the Midwifery Council can allow a midwife to practise without any conditions and also allow a midwife to change their name on their registration when investigations are incomplete," Mr Barlow said.

"The midwife has yet to be fully investigated for what the coroner highlighted as a preventable death of a child and also for the severe permanent injuries to the mother."

Their call comes as a second investigation into Adam's death is being considered by Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill.

The investigation team is also looking at the injuries sustained by Mrs Barlow who ended up on life-support.

Yesterday Ms Campbell declined to comment when contacted by the Waikato Times. Her Facebook page shows she is now living in Cambridge and working as a community midwife at Middlemore Hospital.

Midwifery Council chief executive Sharron Cole said Ms Campbell had completed the requirements of the supervision programme and there was "no longer a need for the midwife to practise under supervision".

"All consumers are free to ask their midwife any questions they wish with respect to her practice, her philosophy, her practice statistics, when she was last reviewed, whether she has had complaints etcetera," Mrs Cole said.

But Mr Barlow believes the council is failing to safeguard new expectant mothers and their babies.

"There is now somebody practising under a different name, with no conditions on their practice such as clinical supervision, possibly practising as an independent, self-employed midwife, despite the coroner's findings and despite the current assessments by the commission investigation team," he said.

"It is our view that the Midwifery Council allowing this is damaging the midwifery profession as a whole, setting the standard that it is OK to practise the way that Adam's midwife did and totally undermining the amazing work of our valued midwives."

Waikato Times