Why I became a Solicitor after being a Midwife

Author:
Kay Barnes
Partner, Medical Negligence Solicitor
Date:
01/02/2019

I’ve been asked why I became a Medical Negligence Solicitor after being a midwife many times. My journey began when I was 6 years old and underwent a tonsillectomy at Booth Hall Children’s Hospital in Manchester. This was a procedure which was almost routine then, for a child with history of sore throats, and it certainly worked for me, as I’ve rarely suffered from one since.

I remember my time in hospital vividly. The nurses were wonderful and by the time I was discharged, my future was decided. I wanted to be a nurse, a plan to which I stuck with unwavering determination, qualifying as a state registered nurse at the age of 21.

I worked as a staff nurse for several years, in orthopaedics and on a burns unit, but a desire to work more autonomously fuelled my decision to train as a midwife. I qualified and worked at Hope and then Withington Hospital, on antenatal and post-natal wards, and on the delivery unit.

Whilst I delivered many babies normally, I also experienced birth injuries and emergency situations, including breech deliveries, a presentation often missed until delivery, and shoulder dystocia, when the head delivers and the shoulders get stuck, a very frightening situation clinically, with high risk to both baby and mother.

Premature labour and twin deliveries were also not uncommon, and even normal pregnancies could experience difficulties, with delays in progress, high blood pressure, haemorrhages and foetal distress leading to the need to deliver by forceps or emergency caesarean section. I have witnessed them, firsthand, the trauma experienced when deliveries don’t go to plan.

I can certainly never say I was bored working as a midwife, but after some years in the profession, I felt the need for a new challenge, away from the clinical arena and back to full-time study.

A great love of literature and reading resulted in me studying for an English degree, and during the final year of my degree, I decided to pursue a career in law, with a plan to specialise in medical negligence.

I considered this was a profession which would provide me with the new challenge I had been searching for, and that medical negligence would enable me to draw from my extensive clinical knowledge and experience, to advise and support clients and their families who have suffered serious, often life-changing injuries, like Cerebral and Erbs Palsy.

I’ve been working as a Medical Negligence Solicitor now for more than 20 years and my previous clinical practice has proved to be invaluable. My hands-on experience and insight into the realities of the clinical arena has proved to be an added reassurance to clients, enabling me to undertake a forensic analysis of medical and obstetric records, to identify key issues, provide helpful explanations in the early stages of a case, and to identify quickly the basis of a successful medical negligence claim.

Supporting clients and their families through the litigation process and securing damages and much-needed monies to help make their lives easier has and continues to be a hugely rewarding part of my job.

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