Furness midwife admits errors

Marie Ratcliffe did not attend today's hearing but sent a letter to the misconduct panel. Credit: ITV News.

A former midwife at Furness General Hospital has refused to defend herself against a raft of misconduct charges, including that her conduct contributed to the deaths of two babies, saying that she accepts that she has made mistakes.

Marie Teresa Ratcliffe did not show up for her fitness to practise hearing at the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) in London today and did not send a lawyer to represent her.

Amanda Hamilton, representing the NMC, read out a letter written by Ms Ratcliffe which said that she willl "regret what happened for the rest of my life" and that she is not now a midwife and has no intention of returning to the profession.

The panel has been told that Ms Ratcliffe accepts 77 allegations relating to her involvement in the treatment of 14 patients at the scandal-hit Furness General Hospital in Barrow between February 2004 and September 2013.

They include the allegations that in relation to two babies - one who died in February 2004 and another in September 2008 - that Ms Ratcliffe's conduct had "contributed to the death" of and/or caused the patient's baby "to lose a significant chance of survival".

In the letter read to the NMC panel, sitting in Stratford, east London, Ms Ratcliffe said: "I am a human being of good will and I accept that I have made mistakes and apologise to those affected by them."

In the letter Ms Ratcliffe said she felt "it was important not to delay" proceedings any further or efforts for people to look in to what happened by "defending myself against these charges".

She denied being part of any cover-up or collusion of what had happened or effort to "conceal the truth".

She noted that the system had been flawed but that she was governed by those procedures. She stated that "in writing these words I seek no leniency" adding "I accept things I cannot change."

Panel chairman Gary Leong said: "By her letter Ms Ratcliffe is aware of the proceedings. She has voluntarily absentented herself. She is very clear that she does not wish to defend herself against these charges.

"In light of that the panel considers that an adjournment would not change the circumstances. She does not wish to come."