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Midwife whose patient delivered baby in South Shields hospital toilet cleared of wrongdoing

South Tyneside District Hospital
South Tyneside District Hospital

A midwife whose patient delivered her own baby in a toilet at South Tyneside’s main hospital is free to return to work after being cleared of any wrongdoing.

The newborn fell into the lavatory pan after the surprise arrival at South Tyneside District Hospital in March 2014, a hearing of the the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

The patient had blamed midwife Diane Harmer claiming that, when she asked to use the toilet, she was told ‘Just go in the sheets.’

But Harmer faces no further sanctions after the panel found the patient’s evidence to be inconsistent and that she was drowsy from painkillers at the time.

It had been claimed Harmer told the patient, who has not been named, she should win the lottery because of mess she had to clear up and the amount of horrible things she had to do.

The panel found this was a joke that had been taken out of context by the patient.

Panel chairwoman, Lesley White, said: “There is no doubt that what the patient has said, she believes, and I make no criticism of her.”

But she said the patient’s recollections were affected by the severe trauma she had suffered.

“The baby came more quickly than anyone expected,” she said, adding that the midwife’s superiors should have been aware of how busy she was and Harmer herself was not to blame.

The panel cleared Harmer failing to provide an adequate standard of care to Patient B and also using inappropriate language towards her.

She was also cleared of failing to provide an adequate standard of care for two other patients.

Harmer who did not attend the hearing, admitted to two counts of not counter signing a student midwife’s notes.

Earlier the mother told how she gave birth in a toilet cubicle after she had been helped to the lavatory by her husband.

She said: “I felt something and looked down. I then delivered him into the toilet and dropped him. My husband lifted my baby out of the toilet.”

After the traumatic birth, the woman said she was disorientated and left covered in blood.

She told the hearing: “I couldn’t even hold my own baby. I was covered in blood, I felt very dirty and unclean.”

No comment was available from South Tyneside Hospital Trust which runs the hospital in Harton Lne, South Shields.