Mr Justice Ritchie has upheld a Striking-off Order in the case of Golden v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2023] EWHC 619 (Admin) (21 March 2023).

Mr Justice Ritchie summarised the background to this case in his judgement [Para 4-7]:

  • The Appellant, Mr Gold, is an independent midwife who was contacted by a pregnant woman, who I shall refer to as M, to be her private midwife for her planned birth in France. She did not wish to use the local French hospitals or State midwifery services or the private French midwifery services, but instead wished to have a home birth in her house in France with an English registered midwife. This was her first child. She entered into a contract with the Appellant, which was drafted by him, for him to provide a minimum of three weeks of midwifery services before, during and after her calculated due date until the baby was 2/3 weeks old. She paid £3,000 for those services, plus travel expenses.
  • The Appellant drove to France on the 31st of August 2019 and stayed in a caravan near M’s house to provide the services before and after her stated due date, which was the 9th of September 2019. Contractions did not start, and her waters did not break (as I shall find below) before or on the due date. M and the Appellant agreed that the Appellant should leave on 17th September 2019, but should return urgently for the birth of her child. Subsequently, by emails and messages, M and the Appellant communicated but they eventually fell out, and the Appellant regarded the contract as ended so he said so in an email he sent to M on the 8th of October 2019. That very day, M went for a private scan of her baby near her village in France and a decision was made for her to have induction of labour. She went to a French hospital on 10th October, where she gave birth to a live, healthy baby.
  • Both before and after the birth, M complained to the Appellant about the standard of care he had provided and at one stage demanded a refund of £1,500. The Appellant denied any breach of duty. M then complained to the NMC and that complaint started a disciplinary process which led to a full fitness to practise panel (“FTPP”) hearing which took place over 12 days between the 1st of April 2022 and the 20th of April 2022. The Appellant did not attend the final hearing or take part in it. He did not provide his own witness list or bundle of documents for the FTPP final hearing in advance of the hearing when requested to do so or at all, and failed to attend the pre-hearing case management meetings. He failed to fill in the case management forms. He failed to provide a signed and dated witness statement from himself or any witness statement containing his own evidence on the events in France in the summer of 2019.
  • The result of the hearing was that the Appellant was struck off the register of midwives held by the Respondent. The Appellant appeals the findings of fact and the determination that he was unfit to practise and the sanction of striking off.

Mr Gold appealed to the High Court on a number of grounds (nine in total) outlined in paragraph 86 of the judgement.

Mr Justice Ritchie dismissed the appeal, apart from a single ground (2a relating to the Appellant not recording the suspected rupture of membranes in Patient A’s notes), saying:

“In my judgment the findings in relation to all of the charges found proven by the FTPP were sound and correct save for charge 2a which I overturn and for which I substitute a finding of “not proven”. In relation to the finding of impairment of fitness to practice through misconduct, the panel’s reasoning was unimpeachable and justified by the evidence. In relation to the panel’s decision on continuing the hearing in the Appellant’s absence, the correct law was taken into account and the correct principles were applied. This Appellant had been and continued to be obstructive and disruptive to the whole process and then deprived himself of the ability to test the NMC’s live and documentary evidence against him and called none of his own, not even himself. In relation to the decision to admit hearsay evidence from Miss Corcoran the panel correctly considered the Rules and the case law and reached a wholly justifiable case management decision in my judgment.

“The sanction of erasure from the register was appropriate and inevitable in my judgment, in particular because the Appellant’s uninsured, unregistered, black- market midwifery, carried out under a poorly drafted contract was a danger to M and her overdue child. Fortunately, no personal injury was suffered because M paid for a private scan and the birth was then induced at a French hospital.

“For the reasons set out above I overturn the finding that charge 2a was proven, save as to that, the appeal shall be dismissed on all grounds.”

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