Midwife claimed $82k for 172 babies – despite not providing full care

Midwife claimed k for 172 babies – despite not providing full care

The council charged that between 2015 and 2017 the woman claimed fees for services she was not entitled to.

In charge one, the midwife was accused of claiming payments for lead maternity care without properly registering the mothers or obtaining their consent. The charge involved three pregnancies, with registrations for two women being obtained only after their babies were born.

In one instance, she registered herself as the lead maternity carer for a woman she only met once. Despite this, she submitted claims for the first, second and partial third trimesters, which were declined due to duplication from another confirmed midwife.

When questioned by auditors, the woman attributed the discrepancies to sabotage by her ex-husband, which she claimed delayed the return of forms.

The woman also told auditors the expectant mother did not inform her of the transfer to another midwife, contradicting the auditors’ findings.

The second charge alleged the woman claimed payments for lead maternity care she did not provide for a total of $82,100 and 172 pregnancies where she did not provide service for the full three trimesters or in part.

Among the non-compliant claims were those for 13 women where no evidence of consultation during the trimesters was found.

The third charge related to the many unsigned clinical notes, with professional standards requiring that all entries should be signed, dated and include notes on any deletions.

Issues ranged from not staying with the mother for the required two hours post-birth to not being present during established labour.

There was also a lack of evidence for daily visits, failure to see women within 24 hours of delivery, and inadequate documentation of the required seven midwifery visits.

Her response to inquiries about deleting notes was that she could not recall, citing the passage of time.

The woman admitted to seeing one expectant mother only at 31 weeks and another at seven weeks but claimed full modules for both. She also admitted to only brief interactions with multiple women during their pregnancies, again claiming for full-term care.

When auditors began looking into the case, the woman recreated notes based on her memory, however, when auditors checked against the mother’s well-child booklets, discrepancies were obvious.

The woman’s ex-husband reported her to the council and when disciplinary proceedings began, she admitted the charges.

She told the council that during the period concerned, she was going through a separation and that her husband was in charge of the finances, only paying her a salary.

She said as she took over managing her finances and own work, files were missing, which she said her husband had taken.

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal held a hearing around the misconduct of a midwife. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson
The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal held a hearing around the misconduct of a midwife. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson

The woman said she has delivered more than 10,000 babies in her career, and her skills in dealing with Mandarin-speaking women were under-resourced in New Zealand and she wished to continue to serve her community.

She apologised for her poor note-keeping but disputed she did not provide adequate care.

Of the 172 clients, auditors only heard back from two women, which the Professional Conduct Committee submitted was a sign the problem was not widespread.

The disciplinary council decided against the suspension, instead censuring the woman with two conditions: that she not practice as a lead maternity caregiver for 12 months; and that she engages in supervision around her obligations of the Public Health Act and midwifery standards.

She was fined $5000 and granted name suppression until an appeal period passes.

Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei-based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/ Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.