THE parents of a baby boy who died after a series of “deplorable” errors have spoken of their heartbreak after their midwife was found unfit to practice.
Colleen and Hywel Tyler, of Caerphilly, have lived with the anguish of losing their first-born son Noah “every single day” for the past two and half years and want to ensure similar tragedies don’t happen to other families.
Noah’s parents spoke after Julie Louise Richards, the midwife in charge of his birth, was found unfit to practice at a Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct hearing, which ended part- heard today.
Delivering the panel’s verdict, chairman Richard Davies said: “Ms Richards fell considerably far below the standards that may reasonably be accepted of a registered midwife.”
On the day Noah was born in February 2011, Ms Richards failed to note Colleen’s rising blood pressure or distressed baby Noah’s soaring heart rate. Noah was born with severe brain damage and died a few days before Christmas as a result of the injuries he sustained at birth.
The panel said her failure to act was “deplorable”.
For Colleen and Hywel, Noah’s death has had a devastating effect on their lives.
“I still relive that birth every single day,” said Colleen. “I don’t think it will ever leave me.”
They have both called for change in the way health boards deal with midwives who make serious mistakes after the hearing was told Ms Richards was placed under supervision on two occasions before the events leading up to Noah’s death.
Colleen said: “We can’t get Noah back – but we cannot allow this to happen to any other child and any other families.”
Ms Richards faced charges relating to three patients, one of whom was Colleen. In one case, Ms Richards failed to recognise the high blood pressure of an expectant mother. In another, she booked an inducement earlier than permitted by national guidelines.
It was the first time Noah’s parents heard in detail the string of errors which preceded Noah’s death.
Hywel said: “Of all the hearings, this is the one that has really played on our minds because this one is all about whether she will be able to continue to practice.”
While the Tylers knew Ms Richards was facing allegations relating to two other patients, they had no idea of how serious each one was.
Hywel said: “All we saw until this week was the list of charges. This week, we’ve been able to hear what other midwives would have done if they were there.
“It’s very difficult to hear. I just kept thinking, what if one of the other midwives had been the one to walk in that day? Noah would still be here.”
Colleen, who was known as Patient C during the hearing, said: “How could there have been a patient A, B, C and then a dead Baby C?
“It shouldn’t have got to that point. You shouldn’t get that many chances when you’re dealing with people’s lives.
“Something needs to change – with the way midwives are supervised or the way they deal with mistakes. It’s obviously not working for someone to have made that many mistakes.”
Yesterday’s victory was bittersweet for Colleen and Hywel, as they will have to wait three more weeks to find out if Ms Richards will be struck off the register.
Colleen said: “Three weeks is better than three months – but they will be the longest three weeks of our lives.
“I bear no ill will towards her but she’s not safe to be caring for other people.”
Hywel added: “I hope she can get on with things after this. But we want to ensure that she’s not responsible for anyone else’s life.
“She’s proved she’s not capable of it.”
While Noah’s inquest was ongoing last year, Colleen gave birth to the couple’s second son, Joseph. Now almost a year old, he is a happy and healthy little boy – but the trauma of Colleen’s first labour almost caused serious problems in her second.
“We had an amazing, amazing doctor – but I still freaked out,” she said. “I was 34 weeks in when I started feeling contractions and we had a similar problem with both our heart rates. I couldn’t help but panic.”
Fortunately, doctors performed an emergency caesarean section and little Joseph was born completely healthy. But Colleen doesn’t think she could ever do it again.
“Because of what happened with Noah, I just don’t think I could have another child,” she said. “It’s just one of the devastating effects for us.
“I still consider myself a mum-of-two. It’s just one of my sons is in heaven.”