The following article is a personal reflection on becoming an OT expert witness, by...
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MSc Midwifery, PG Dip Ed, BA, RM, RN, Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing, Full Member of Expert Witness Institute (MEWI)
I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1982, and went on to qualify as a Registered Midwife in 1984. I have practised clinically in all areas, most of them at a senior level, and taught both students and midwives whilst working as a Midwife Lecturer at a local university.
I worked as a Practice Development Midwife for an acute Trust from April 2011 to May 2015. This was a multi-faceted role, involving client care, education, and management; providing client care both directly and as support to newly qualified staff. My line-manager responsibilities were to a group of newly qualified midwives, supporting both in clinical practice and educational development. I also acted as ‘Board Holder’ through a rota system being the senior midwife for the service across the conurbation and wider geographical area. I continued to work clinically through all areas of the service. I regularly supported students in their clinical placements and contributed to assessments via OSCEs. I undertook PROMPT training and provided multidisciplinary training in obstetric emergencies, and ‘live drills’ in accordance with a national framework.
I was appointed by NHS England to act as a Supervisor of Midwives concurrent to my substantive role. Within this role I provided guidance and leadership to midwives and act as a role model. I support the development of best practice through audit, education and implementing of guidelines, which are subject to peer review. Following investigation of untoward incidents I supported midwives through developmental support and supervised practice. I became an expert witness in 2013 and my case work is split between instructions from both Defendant and Claimant and the nursing and midwifery council (NMC).
During my clinical career, I regularly updated guidelines in response to national guidance changes and/or in response to clinical incidents and I was a consistent peer reviewer for British Journal of Midwifery. I maintained my knowledge and competence through updating and attendance at conferences and symposiums. In addition, in 2018 I was a confidential enquiry panel assessor reviewing births in midwife led facilities (ESMiE).
Since January 2020, I have been working in a part-time capacity for a rural Trust, across all areas of the integrated service. I continue to support students both in practice and formal university assessments. I remain a peer reviewer for British Journal of Midwifery and audit practice for the Trust on a monthly basis as part of the Saving Babies Lives initiative.
Having undergone root cause analysis training many years ago, I have recently completed the Healthcare Incident Investigation course in association with Cranfield University, to further enhance the skills I bring to my expert witness work. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses.