This time last year I was on my way to Portsmouth for our two week holiday in La Tremblade, Western France. We hadn’t been on holiday as a family for 5 years and this was much needed because the previous day I had been called to appear in front of a panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) who were deciding if I was a threat to babies 😞.
This year I am reflecting back on this past year and breaking my silence about what happened to me. I remained professional throughout this awful process and will remain so in the way I word and deliver this blog.
NO CASE TO ANSWER
I was reported to the NMC, my professional body, for “causing harm to babies” a devastating accusation for a midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who dedicates her life to protecting the health of babies. The report was lodged by my ex employer. In itself this is a normal practice when concerns have been received about a midwife. However, it is usual practice to make the midwife aware and give her an opportunity for explanation before a formal referral to the NMC, especially if they are still an employee (on the Bank or contracted) and ensuring the allegations have an element of validity. You would expect them to have been made following a clinical assessment of the said baby and if they have made a clinical assessment ensuring their allegations are in the realms of their knowledge base and scope of practice.
Unfortunately, the 3 reports that were acted upon were false allegations of causing harm. They were instigated because those that made assessments of the clinical situation were not trained to make such a judgement or did not even see the baby they were raising a clinical concern about.
Suffice to say after a year of being dragged back and forth to the NMC for numerous hearings at considerable cost to the NMC and the RCM who provided me with 3 Barristers and a solicitor for a year (thank God I remained a member of the RCM) they returned a verdict of NO CASE TO ANSWER.
As a result of the report my name was lodged on the NMC register with a flag against it to which the report from the hearing against me was added. Yes, unfortunately the system treats you as guilty before proven innocent. I could have plastered this across social media and shout about the injustice of it all, tell the mothers of my area about it but at the heart of this were 3 mothers and their babies and I owed them and myself the respect to keep this professional and not publicise the report against my name.
I feel at this point I need to point out that what I am stating in this blog is and has been of public knowledge.
This accusation and subsequent investigation has resulted in the mothers of my area having a reduction in the provision of private Frenulotomies because I am no longer able to pay for the Insurance. They are also being prevented from being signposted to the community drop in group that I volunteer my services to and information about the free App that I have developed. This is not giving women a right to choice, access to support from an IBCLC and evidence based information that is in line with the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards that all health visitors and midwives in my area follow.
I have been extremely ill mentally (scarily so but getting help now) have struggled to pay the mortgage and had to cancel this year’s family holiday. I have had my reputation and my name slandered and libellous accusations have me made against me and these attempts have been made to prevent me from practicing as a midwife and IBCLC.
To clarify, it was never the case that I had been struck off or suspended from the NMC register, or prevented from practising as a midwife and IBCLC. I did however have a sanction placed on the specific clinical practice of performing frenulotomies, until I had been deemed competent by an independent experienced practitioner. I did not practice frenulotomies from the moment I received the notification of the report of allegations against me on 6thJuly 2019, despite claims to the contrary. The sanction was lifted in January this year when the NMC held an Interim Order Review.
It is hard to stomach the thought that fellow health professionals who are members of a caring profession can make such ill-informed choices and allegations without sound evidence or knowledge.
WHERE AM I NOW?
As I write this my business Breastfeeding Hub Ltd. trading as #KeepingMum™ and my BreastfeedingHub App are really gaining momentum and I have a feeling I am going make a success of this business lark. I need Investment at this Start Up phase (see #KeepingMum Crowdfunder https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/user/login) but I am looking forward to the future. I look forward to being able to go on holiday again next year maybe and helping my children build their adult lives and build the life Kev and I deserve after a shit load of years of ill health and hard work building ourselves as professionals and experts in our fields.
So far this has sounded like a woe is me kind of blog, but it isn’t.
I have learned a lot this year and discovered strength I didn’t know I had, even after my battle with breast cancer. Thankfully I have a faith and my fellow parishioners have really helped me through this as have my family and friends and I truly believe my Mum and Dad are guiding me in spirit.
I have tried to forgive the instigators of this whole sorry affair and tried to understand their issues, but this is a work in progress.
I have realised I am like Marmite, you either love me or hate me and those that love me get me and those
that hate are of a certain personality trait and I have to accept that not everyone can be my friend (thank you for that insight K McFadds).
I have shared this because I want people to know the truth and not listen to the ill-informed rhetoric of those who are determined to try and ruin my professional integrity or are threatened by me, those who will not admit their lack of insight of others inability to admit their errors of judgement. I have shared this to highlight the vulnerability of private practice. I have shared this to show that reflection is a key skill of a midwife and I have reflected for England.
At the core of this is the mother and baby breastfeeding dyad and we are all striving to support them. No matter if we are a midwife, private or NHS IBCLC, voluntary or paid peer supporter, breastfeeding counsellor, community breastfeeding group facilitator, midwife, health visitor or those who are leading Infant Feeding no matter their level of qualification to do so, we must all hold the breastfeeding dyad (in all its forms) at the centre of our care and know our professional capabilities and limitations and abide our code of practice no matter the origin or level of expertise.
I look forward to my future, alive, strong and able to face the challenges whilst building my business and supporting mothers, fathers, partners and babies in their infant feeding needs. #mentalhealth #profesionalintegrity #buildingabusiness #breastfeedingdya