Tribunal rules midwife guilty of misconduct

By Merania Karauria

The Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal yesterday ruled that Wanganui midwife Cheryl Nancy Baker was guilty of professional misconduct, following a hearing in Wanganui on Wednesday.

Charges were brought by the Midwifery Council that was represented in the hearing by Matthew McClelland of Wellington before a tribunal of five members chaired by Bruce Corkill QC.

As a matter of formality, Ms Baker was censured by the tribunal, which Mr Corkill said was not to be underestimated.

Following submissions by Mr McClelland on Wednesday, the tribunal established that Ms Baker had practised midwifery without a practising certificate during April and May 2010. In February 2010, the Midwifery Council ordered Ms Baker undertake and complete a competence programme within 12 months of the order, which she failed to do.

It was also established by the tribunal that Ms Baker failed to notify the Whanganui District Health Board as to the handover of her clients to other midwives, failed to notify her clients that she had ceased practice as a midwife, and she continued to practise as a midwife while employed at the Family Planning Whanganui Clinic from March 20 2010.

Ms Baker no longer works there.

Mr McClelland said Ms Baker's actions exposed clients to serious risk and her colleagues to risk and abuse.

Ms Baker told the tribunal that she was remiss and the handover was inadequate.

She said she wrote a letter to the council requesting a change in the professional development plan and thought that was sufficient to renegotiate a practising certificate. She said she believed she complied with the obligation to advise the council.

An order for a six-month suspension from working as a midwife was imposed.

If Ms Baker elected to return to midwifery, Mr Corkill said it would be on the condition she must be supervised for 18 months by a midwife approved by the Midwifery Council, and the costs to be borne by Ms Baker.

There was to be no fine but an order of $12,700 for costs was imposed. Ms Baker could apply to the Midwifery Council as to how she addresses that be paid.

Mr Corkill told Ms Baker that the tribunal recognised how stressful the hearing was for her.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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