Nearly 250 midwives gathered at the Brunei Gallery in London’s Russell Square for the RCM’s annual legal birth conference.
The sell-out event, which was organised in association with legal training company Bond Solon, gave delegates the opportunity to find out the latest legal issues surrounding birth and discuss methods of best practice for safe, woman-centred care.
RCM president Lesley Page, who delivered the keynote speech, reminded delegates that midwives should not be defensive in their work, but rather focused on creating a safe environment for women in their care.
‘We shouldn’t be practising as if a lawyer is over our shoulders,’ she said.
Other speakers included barrister Barbara Hewson of Hardwicke, who provided the annual legal update, and the NMC’s assistant director for standards, Carmel Lloyd, who briefed delegates on the principles of good regulation.
Media consultant Anna Averkiou also led a discussion with staff from Northwick Park hospital in North West London, which has implemented major changes to its procedures since the deaths of 10 mothers in 2005. The discussion provided delegates with information and advice, which speakers hoped would help teach other trusts vital lessons in best practice.
Delegates also got the chance to put their legal knowledge to the test during the afternoon session by acting as jury in a mock coroner’s inquest. They were asked to give a verdict on the fictional case of Polly Smith, a newborn who died within half an hour of birth by emergency caesarean.
Taking all the evidence provided by the ‘midwife’ ‘labour ward co-ordinator’ and ‘labour ward manager’ into account, the majority of delegates decided on a verdict of ‘misadventure aggravated by lack of care – a decision that legal advisor Andrew Andrews, who was acting as coroner, agreed with.
Booking for next year’s conference, which will take place on 11 July 2013, is now open. To secure your place, call 020 7549 2505.