Professional body takes action over concerns raised

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A DONCASTER Royal Infirmary student midwife who failed to pass basic assessments to prove she was able to save a baby’s life can return to work.

Rachel Marie Walton was brought before a Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing after she repeatedly failed tests checking she would know how to respond if a baby became unwell.

The nurse admitted failing the assessments but said she became stressed and anxious during the examinations.

She has been allowed to continue working as a midwife under conditions which ordered her to undergo extra training to help her recognise when a birth is going wrong.

Panel chairman Judith Worthington said: “The serious nature and extent of the registrant’s lack of competence as a midwife demands a sanction.”

She said Walton’s incompetence “might be susceptible to remediation by retraining”.

She added the public would be protected by conditions of practice.

Walton had admitted failing a range of tests designed to check if she could take action to save the life of a baby.

But Ms Worthington said the panel had received no evidence of concerns about Walton’s abilities before she took a course in newborn life support, later failing a multiple choice test on the subject.

She said the course was ‘not necessary’ for a midwife of Walton’s experience, and her performance in the multiple choice test was not demonstrative of a lack of the competence required of her by registration as a midwife.

But the nurse was found to have been incompetent during a three month period of supervised practice between June and August 2007. Ms Worthington said the panel heard three midwives who had been supporting Walton expressed serious and specific concerns about important aspects of her knowledge and abilities.

Walton was told to undergo extra training as part of a three year conditions of practice order to target the gaps in her knowledge.

She must work under a supervisor for at least 450 hours, and complete a personal development plan, including training in recognising and responding to deviations from a normal presentation.

The nurse was told to improve her documentation and record keeping, workload prioritisation, and planning and evaluating individualised care.