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Meet Kay Barnes – medical negligence solicitor and former midwife

By Kay Barnes, Emma Hudson

Published In: Clinical Negligence, People Stories

When dealing with something as important as a birth injury compensation claim, you need to know you're in safe hands. At Switalskis, we bring together decades of experience and a proven track record in birth injury claims. We're dedicated to fighting for your rights and achieving the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Image of Maternity ward sign

Kay Barnes , Director, Solicitor and Head of the Leeds-based Medical Negligence team is a former midwife with 20 years clinical experience in the NHS.

Kay’s extensive midwifery experience affords her an invaluable insight and understanding of antenatal care, labour, and delivery. Her skills assist Switalskis team of medical negligence lawyers in identifying when care has been negligent and there is the basis of a claim to pursue.

Emma Hudson , medical negligence solicitor, and a member of Kay’s Leeds-based team, posed some insightful questions to Kay ahead of International Day of the Midwife.

What initially drew you to the field of midwifery, and how did your passion for it develop over time?

 “As part of my general nurse training I needed to witness the birth of a baby and recall it being the most amazing experience of my life. After qualifying in general nursing and working initially in orthopaedics and then on a Burns Unit, I decided I wanted to train as a midwife. This offered the opportunity for a greater level of clinical autonomy which appealed to me. It is incredibly special and a real privilege to be part of being present at the time of the most precious moment in people’s lives when their baby is born.”


Can you share some highlights from your time working as a midwife?

 “During a week when staffing levels were severely stretched, I bonded with a group of women on antenatal ward all in with different problems, anything from pre-eclampsia, polyhydramnios (when there is too much amniotic fluid during pregnancy), bleeding and signs of premature labour or growth concerns. I ran from bed to bed each day trying to provide the best care possible often as the only midwife on duty, raising morale and keeping spirits up. At the end of the week, one lady was transferred to labour ward and delivered her baby. She sent me a message to me she had called her baby Kay, as she would always remember the support I gave her at such an anxious time. It was a moment that really touched my heart.”


Why did you decide to transition into becoming a medical negligence solicitor?

 “I felt I wanted to build on my knowledge and experience, developing my role to represent women and their families when things have gone wrong. Sadly, when babies suffer brain damage or other injury, their lives can be catastrophically affected. I wanted to contribute in a different way in providing support to those babies and families.”


In what ways do you think clients benefit from having a solicitor who not only understands the legal complexities but also the practical aspects of medical care?

 “I am very familiar with medical terms and conditions and practiced extensively within the NHS and private arenas clinically before commencing my career in the law. This extensive knowledge and experience allows me to discuss medical evidence with experts with confidence. I am helped by a real understanding of the clinical arena, the difficulties managing complications which occur and those created or compounded by poor staffing levels.

 "I can also navigate medical records and understand the anatomy and physiology of clinical conditions well which enables my efficient forensic analysis of the notes and early identification of a possible case.

 "In particular, my knowledge and ability to interpret heart traces can be invaluable in identifying signs of distress and oxygen deprivation which were missed in labour and which, if diagnosed, would have led to different treatment which would have altered the outcome and avoided the brain damage or suffered by a child.”


How do your experiences as a midwife inform your perspective and approach as a medical negligence solicitor?

 “My time as a midwife has given me an understanding not only of how women and their families are affected by the care that they receive, but also an understanding of how those who provide the care are impacted when mistakes are made. Midwives and doctors are usually extremely upset and distressed, particularly when babies suffer severe injury and brain damage.

“I have an appreciation of the rollercoaster of emotions experienced by women antenatally during labour and delivery - from the joy of confirming a pregnancy, through to the anxiety and fear antenatally of the vulnerability and risk of possible problems, through to the elation and joy after the birth, but also the devastation experienced when things go wrong, and babies are stillborn or suffer injury.”

International Day of the Midwife 2024

International Day of the Midwife takes place annually on the 5th of May. It is a day to not only celebrate the achievements of midwives across the globe, but also look at what improvements still need to be made to help advance the care being delivered.

This year’s theme focuses on strategies to improve the health and status of women through resilient health systems capable of withstanding climate change. Further information on the day and events can be found here .


Here for you

Experiencing a birth injury can be life-altering and emotionally challenging. In such moments, you need a trusted partner to navigate these unfamiliar and traumatic times. This is where Switalskis can help.

Our team is driven to protect your rights and ensure your voice is heard. We’ll guide you through every step of the claim process, ensuring you're informed and empowered to make the right decisions.

Call 0800 1380 458 or email


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Photo of Kay Barnes

Kay qualified as a Solicitor in 1997.  She is a Director in our Medical Negligence team.  Before studying to become a Solicitor, Kay worked for several years as a Midwife.

Director and Solicitor
Photo of Emma Hudson

Emma qualified as a Solicitor in 2013.She is a Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team. Emma has a level 2 qualification in counselling skills.


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