I just wanted to take an opportunity to reflect upon the Maternity Review published this week by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, Chair of the National
#MaternityReview, and colleagues. I will also couple this with a reflection on the NHS Staff Survey in England, also published this week #NHSStaffSurvey
Overall, I think the National Maternity Review report, ‘Better Births’ was received very warmly by all, including the
#MatExp community. You can read the #RCOG response to National Maternity Review here. I certainly welcome the core recommendations as listed below: #MaternityReview Recommendation 1: Personalised care, centred on women and families. Genuine choice, unbiased info. #MaternityReview Recommendation 2: Continuity of carer: safe care, a relationship of mutual trust and respect #MaternityReview Recommendation 3: Safer care, working together across boundaries, leadership for a safety culture. #MaternityReview Recommendation 4: Better postnatal and perinatal mental health care – funding and provision #MaternityReview Recommendation 5: Multi-professional working, breaking down barriers to safe and personalised care #MaternityReview Recommendation 6: Working across boundaries to support personalisation, safety and choice. #MaternityReview Recommendation 7: A fair and adequate NHS payment system for high quality NHS care
However, there were a few sentences which had me a little worried, and helped me to reflect on my own work.
Firstly: “Providing health care is by nature demanding and stressful, but the NHS Staff Survey provides evidence that this affects maternity staff more than most.”
Here, it is wonderful to see the emotion/stress work done by midwives being acknowledged. It is recognised, and so we can now begin to respond to this. Also, the evidence that maternity staff are affected more than most highlights that perhaps the midwifery workforce is more in need of support than others? or at least that we should support the midwifery workforce as a priority group? It was always my vision that the work I would do would start with midwives, and then disseminate to other staff groups….Now we have evidence that this could be a wise choice.
The report also states that:
“Midwives are more likely to report feeling pressured at work than other NHS staff, with almost half recording having suffered from work-related stress”
Does this mean that more midwives are coming forward and reporting the consequences of these pressures? Psychological distress too? At the very least, we are seeing more recognition of the reality of midwifery work environments.
Lastly, we see that:
“More midwives and trainee obstetricians report feeling unsupported in the workplace compared with other clinicians, although midwives report feeling slightly more supported by their managers than in previous years”
This tells us that midwives are in need of support. The question remains to be what type of support is required? wanted? needed? By the sounds of things, any intervention of support could complement the current systems, as long as it is there!
This reassures me that I am working towards at least one sound solution to support midwives in psychological distress. An anonymous, online intervention…. In future, we may have more opportunities to illuminate how midwives are really surviving, thriving or diving in an evermore challenging profession.
We all want to put women at the centre of maternity care. However, I remain convinced that this can only happen if the well being of midwives is also made a top priority.
Also this week, an annual staff survey answered by nearly 300,000 people
I was delighted to hear that in response to this survey, NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens had said that “The best NHS employers know that staff well being and high-quality patient care are two sides of the same coin,” he said. How refreshing 🙂
Sadly, about a quarter of the total NHS workforce found that a third felt they had experienced work-related stress. Yet there were also many encouraging improvements noted.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “The variation in staff experience across the NHS remains a real concern for employers and boards will want to do more to address this.”
Chris Graham, director of research and policy at the Picker Institute and the survey’s chief investigator, said: “Too many staff complain about inadequate resources, staffing shortages, and the deleterious impact of their work on their own health and wellbeing. We call on all employers to closely review their results and take action to ensure staff are supported and listened to.”
With these new learnings in place. Lets hope that we can all create new narratives where the staff experience is prioritised alongside the patient experience. My intervention cannot come soon enough…I just need to finish this PhD first!
In terms of my own practice. I continue to reflect upon the same part of the NMC code in that we must all “be supportive of colleagues who are encountering health or performance problems”. The staff experience falls in line with this, in that we must all support staff well being in order to promote excellence in healthcare.
So until next time. Look after yourselves, and each other.