A stunning indictment of UK midwives and their rising death toll

Multiple coffins for sale in a row

I’ve been writing for years about the fact that UK midwives are running amok promoting “normal birth” and babies are dying. For years, the British media and the British population seemed uninterested, but now the death toll has become so high that even they cannot look away.

The Guardian reports in Exclusive: Baby deaths linked to lack of basic midwife training:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]How many babies have to die and how many billions of pounds have to be paid out before the morally repugnant, incompetently trained, self-dealing, deadly UK midwives are held to account?

The number of claims for brain damage and cerebral palsy has tripled in a decade, amid widespread monitoring failures…

… Since 2004/5, the value of claims against NHS maternity units for brain damage and cerebral palsy has risen from £354m to £990m, official figures show.

The cases – often linked with a failure to monitor babies’ heart rates, to detect risks of oxygen starvation – fuelled maternity negligence claims of more than £1.2bn in 2015/16 [$1.5 billion].

Why? Among other reasons, it appears that UK midwives don’t know how to diagnose fetal distress.

Babies are dying and being put at risk of major brain injury because it is “commonplace” for British midwives to qualify without training in use of basic equipment, a senior coroner has warned.

The regulator for midwives has been told to reform the sylllabus for all trainees after a string of deaths of newborns following monitoring failures.

Hospital trusts have been advised to stop recruiting newly qualified midwives until they can prove they can perform foetal heart monitoring.

For example:

Baby Delilah Hubbard died two days after her birth at Leicester General Infirmary in March 2015. Although her mother Clara Bassford was classed as a “high risk” pregnancy, having had two previous babies prematurely, midwives failed to monitor her properly. After Ms Bassford warned that the baby was not moving, midwives tried to carry out checks. But they positioned the monitor wrongly – so that the child’s heart rate was not properly recorded. The NHS trust last year admitted that Delilah would have survived if staff had acted more quickly.

Baby Rupert Sanders died on Christmas Eve in 2012 after midwife Carol Marston switched off a heart monitor alarm 16 times during his birth. The midwife admitted to making “catastrophic” mistakes, failing to realise how severe the abnormalities were. Fellow midwife Anne Mather also failed to detect the gravity of the situation during the labour of first-time mother Lauren Sanders, at Stafford Hospital, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

An investigation into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust is examining the deaths of 15 babies and three women, including at least five cases involving foetal heart monitoring failures. The cases involve twins Ella and Lola Greene, stillborn in 2014, Graham Scott Holmes-Smith, stillborn in December 2015, the death of Kye Hall, at four days, in August 2016, and that of Ivy Morris, who died in May 2016, four months after her birth.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What, you might wonder, do UK midwives have to say about this?

Absolutely nothing.

As I recently explained, social media, particularly Twitter, allows UK midwives to recuse themselves from reality and reward themselves with a never ending round of dopamine-releasing self-congratulation. That rewarding feedback loop is infinitely more gratifying than facing the injuries and deaths that occur because of UK midwives overweening self-regard. Twitter allows them to customize their surroundings by blocking anyone who might intrude (laypeople and professionals) with distressing stories of babies and mothers who were injured or died because of midwives’ unethical promotion of “normal birth.”

As far as I can determine, neither Cathy Warwick, head of the Royal College of Midwives, nor Sheena Byrom, a leader of UK midwives, nor any other midwifery leader has even bothered to mention the story thusfar. Instead their Twitter feeds are filled with self-congratulatory messages to each other on their promotion of “normal birth”.

What about their blogs?

Today’s RCM blog post is about the upcoming election and what the various political parties are promising to do for midwives and the NHS.

The post currently featured on Sheila Byrom’s blog is a guest post entitled — what else? — All this push for ‘normal birth’ – why I keep pushing:

As a consumer of the media, I see this – or some variation on this theme – so often. In a somewhat sinister twist, I occasionally see this one:

“Midwives endanger lives with their stubborn insistence on pushing for normal birth.”

I’m a third year student midwife, and a birth addict. In October last year, I attended the International Normal Labour and Birth Conference in Sydney, Australia. Seeing so many esteemed, brilliant and passionate people assemble to protect and promote normal birth was somewhat overwhelming, and possibly even more so was trying to keep up with it all on social media! Thousands upon thousands of tweets, Facebook posts and #normalbirth16 hashtags flooded the web, drawing many comments from people near and far…

Her response:

Because the move to protect normal birth is not, and has never been, about trying to conscript women into accepting less intervention, less Caesarian section, less pain relief in birth. The purpose of such advocacy is never about blaming women for their choices and experiences. The point of the exercise is NOT to make mothers feel like failures if their birth did not meet the ‘optimum’ recommendations. Birth is not, and should never be, a competitive sport.

Advocating for normal birth is NOT about holding women accountable.

Advocating for normal birth IS about holding birth workers accountable.

Surprise, normal birth is about midwives.

So don’t be fooled – advocating normal birth is not some crazy, midwife-led agenda to keep obstetricians out of work and see women suffer through difficult labour without pain relief (although that’s what some outspoken critics might have you believe). It’s true that many of the most articulate advocates for normal birth are midwives, but are midwives really that vicious?

But they ARE that vicious. At the same time the the NHS paid out £1.2bn in compensation for injuries and deaths, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMS) paid £240,000 to lawyers to keep the truth about baby Joshua Titcombe’s preventable death from his father James:

Now new documents reveal that the watchdog spent £240,000 on laywers – paid from subscriptions by nurses and midwives – on advice about how to respond to his attempts to uncover the truth.

The bereaved father sought information from the regulator, after the NMC refused to supply him with details of a review it had carried out, and correspondence to other regulators.

They also subjected James to a campaign of harrassment on social media.

For example:


Highlights include:

oh James-don’t let’s get on that roll again …


getting out of bed in the morning has risks

Yes, James, how could you be so tiresome, always going on about the risks of childbirth and the babies who die as a result? Sheena is so over that.

Byrom ought to be ashamed of herself for the chilling way that she dismissed the father of a baby who died as a result of midwifery incompetence. But that would involve insight, compassion and a sense of responsibility, something in woefully short supply among UK midwives in general and Byrom in particular.

The latest revelations are hardly surprising given the appalling behavior of UK midwives in the past. All of which leads me to ask:

How many babies have to die and how many billions of pounds have to be paid out before the morally repugnant, incompetently trained, self-dealing, deadly UK midwives are held to account?