Broadchurch star Sarah Parish calls for sacked doctor to be reinstated

‘He’s the very reason why I’m here and my daughter is here’: Broadchurch star Sarah Parish calls for sacked doctor who saved her life giving birth to be reinstated

  • Whistleblower Dr Martyn Pitman was sacked by the Hampshire Hospital Trust 
  • There have been claims he clashed with midwives over ‘normal birth ideology’
  • READ MORE: Broadchurch star calls for inquiry into why doctor was sacked 

Broadchurch actor Sarah Parish has called for a dismissed hospital consultant who saved her and her baby daughters’ lives to be reinstated.

Dr Martyn Pitman and Sarah Parish appeared on Good Morning Britain to speak about his experience. 

He worked at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester for more than two decades until he was let go in April.

There have been claims that he clashed with midwives over ‘normal birth ideology’ and was dismissed by Hampshire hospital trust.

Dr Pitman claims he was sacked for blowing the whistle on ‘poor management, low morale and staffing levels’ and there will be an employment tribunal.

Dr Martyn Pitman and Sarah Parish appeared on Good Morning Britain to speak about his experience

In 2019 he made a compliant about patient safety and staffing, and said the midwife management complained to the hospital about him. 

Dr Pitman said: ‘The focus on normal birth ideology was basically what led to me putting myself in a vulnerable position for what followed. 

‘I’ve always believed that mothers should have the right to choose how they deliver their babies and that flew in the face a bit of the ideology.

‘We’ve thankfully just come to the end of a couple of decades of really quite severe pressure to try and reduce Caesarean section rate.

‘And I very strongly believe that that was the wrong way to go, that focusing on the unit Caesarean section rate as a mark of its success was an entirely naive and incorrect mark of the success of the unit.

‘And pushing mums towards vaginal delivery, almost at all costs in some situations, which has now been repeatedly shown in the Morecambe Bay maternity disaster, Shrewsbury and Telford, East Kent and Donna Ockenden’s sterling work that she’s doing at the moment in Nottingham, to be the wrong way to go. 

‘I think in a way I was ahead of the game in saying “No I don’t think that’s right.”

‘There was a real battle, particularly in ladies that had had one Caesarean section being coerced, if not forced, into the route of having a trial of labour in the next pregnancy. It was that aspect that I think made me vulnerable for what followed.’

When asked about the row, Dr Pitman then said: ‘In 2019 I executed what I believe was my professional responsibility. Myself and my consultant colleagues had witnessed what we felt were worrying spiralling decreases in morale from our clinical midwifery colleagues.

Sarah said that Dr Pitman helped save her daughter’s life. Sarah Parish he is ‘the very reason’ why she and Nell (pictured) are here 

‘Staffing levels we felt were reaching dangerously low levels, they were preventing us from for instance starting inductions of labour and being able to undertake elective caesarean sections in a timely fashion which we felt was potentially going to be prejudicial to patient care.’

Ms Parish was looked after by Dr Pitman through her two pregnancies – firstly with her daughter Ella-Jayne, who was born with a congenital heart defect after a ‘dramatic’ emergency Caesarean section.

Ella-Jayne sadly passed away when she was eight-months-old.

Sarah Parish said on Good Morning Britain: ‘Martyn is the very reason why I’m here and my daughter, Nell, is here. Martyn saw me through both of my births with Ella-Jayne and Nell. 

‘I saw the Facebook page a while back and saw his name and found out what was going on and couldn’t quite believe it, because his reputation in Hampshire and further is incredible.

‘He’s the best that we’ve got. So I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading. So I immediately jumped on board, got involved, tried to do everything I could. 

She said they would love an independent investigation into this matter and but added that the trust is not backing this.

Sarah said that Dr Pitman helped her give birth to both of her children Nell and Ella-Jayne, who sadly passed away at eight months old 

Sarah added: ‘You’re at a very vulnerable time in your life when you’re pregnant and what you need is an obstetrician who is there to look after you and take care of you and make sure you have your baby in the safest possible way.

‘That is that Martyn has done and has done for thousands of women. To dismiss an obstetrician like this is a disaster, it’s a huge mistake. 

‘The shortages in staff at the moment are already putting people and their babies at risk.’

Speaking of her firstborn Ella-Jayne, Sarah said: ‘She was very very poorly when she was born and actually it was Martyn who kept her alive when she was first born.

‘Because I think she came out and she pretty much stopped breathing straight away, and he got her back.

‘Then we discovered she had a syndrome and heart problem and she didn’t last long.’

Dr Pitman believes that there is a nationwide problem with the way whistle-blowers in the NHS are treated, adding ‘I hope to provoke and initiate change’ 

‘Nell’s great, that again was a very traumatic birth that Martyn did brilliantly, it was a Saturday birth which is always tricky on the NHS but he phoned around got everyone he needed.

‘We managed to get Nell out, she was six weeks early, it was touch and go but she’s now a strapping 13 year old, thanks to Martyn. 

‘And thousands of other woman have exactly similar stories all on Facebook.’

Dr Pitman believes that there is a nationwide problem with the way whistle-blowers in the NHS are treated, adding ‘I hope to provoke and initiate change’.

Suzanna said the trust’s statement says that they ‘actively encourage their staff to raise concern.’

To which Martyn said: ‘The issue there is that words are fine, it’s actions that in nearly every walk of life count for far more than words.’

She continued: ‘They say all issues that you raise thoroughly and impartially investigated, including the instances through external review, every effort was made to repair your relationships with maternity and clinical colleagues in question.’

Dr Pitman: ‘I think quoting the words of our late beloved queen, “recollections vary.”‘ 

One of his concerns was later confirmed by the care quality commission who inspected the unit in question and found it did not have enough staff to care for women.

He said: ‘NHS trusts have a binary choice, they can either listen to people who raise concerns which should be their responsibility, and act appropriately, or they can take the alternative approach which is sadly what happened to me and I paid almost the ultimate cost in sacrificing my career. 

‘And that has to change, there needs to be senior government, member of parliament put into this to investigate this and turn it around because at a time where the NHS is leeching experienced staff, you really can’t afford to lose a consultant with 20 years experience.’

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