MIDWIVES ignored policy about filling in forms that monitor vulnerable patients, an inquest into the death of a new mum heard today.

The 'MEWS' form was not completed as it should have been for a patient like Jasmine Pickett who had just undergone an emergency caesarean section.

Mr Pickett, 29, gave birth at the Royal Hampshire County, Winchester, early on December 21 2007 and died on Christmas Eve.

Another mother, Amy Kimmance, 39, gave birth on the same day and died on December 23. Her inquest will follow on from that of Mrs Pickett. Verdicts are due to be announced on Friday.

The inquest heard that Mrs Pickett, of Pennington Close, Colden Common, had picked up a streptococcal infection that developed into severe and fatal pneumonia.

The inquest heard this afternoon that the MEWS form enabled staff to keep track of patients' health, particularly those with high blood pressure or post-operation. Observations are scored and if a certain mark is reached then doctors are asked to intervene. It should be completed three times every 12 hours, the hearing heard.

Midwife Sarah Rabbett, cross-examined by Philip Havers QC, representing the Pickett and Kimmance families, said the MEWS form had not been filled in for Mrs Pickett on December 22.

"I don't know why, but it is quite possible because of the observations were normal, then the MEWS score would have been normal," said Mrs Rabbett.

She agreed with Mr Havers that since December 2007 the midwives were now better at filling in the MEWS forms.

Earlier the inquest heard from maternity support worker Joy Danby that Mrs Pickett had been "coughing her guts up" whilst recovering from the operation.

Mrs Danby had said the "persistent, chesty cough" had worried her enough to tell a midwife about it. The midwife responded by saying Mrs Pickett was asthmatic.

Another midwife, Rosemarie Wood, in a statement, said she saw Mrs Pickett on December 22. "She complained of a cough and cold. She said she was asthmatic and had not been using her inhaler as it made her nauseous."

The inquest has heard that every member of staff in the maternity unit was tested for the streptococcal infection after the deaths. It is believed no evidence was found that either mother picked up the infection within the RHCH.

The inquest continues.