Archive for October 13th, 2007

No, I’m not talking about my hair, I am actually going to talk about the maternity services.

Two alerts I received this week, one about the staffing situation in many of the neonatal intensive care units (SCBU/NICU) and the other about improving staffing levels in maternity units.

I cannot accurately comment about staffing issues in SCBU’s, all I can say is that the drug error involving Louis has been blamed on the unit being busy, in other words, not enough staff.

I can comment about staffing issues concerning midwives within maternity units. I have commented at length on this both on this blog and in my previous blog and it always comes down to the same thing, lack of monies. Everyone talks about a shortage of midwives, at this time there is not a shortage of qualified, work available midwives but there is a shortage of midwifery posts. Trusts have been forced to make savings to stay within their budgets and one of the ways they have made savings is to freeze vacancies, don’t advertise a post until it is vacant, downgrade midwives and halt the use of ‘bank’ staff to cover shortages. I know that the maternity units I am employed by called in Birthrate plus to assess the number of midwives required to cover the service, I went to the presentation of their results where we were told that we required another 23 midwives to adequately staff the service. This was 5 years ago and since then there have been 1.5 posts created. The Trust do not want to spend their money on more midwives. Come to that they don’t want to spend their money on more nurses either. So, we have insufficient funding to provide appropriate staffing levels.

Tell someone you are a midwife and the vast majority will say that it must be the most amazing, rewarding job, and it can be but it is also a stressful job. As a midwife you must never lose sight of the fact that you have two lives in your hands, an oversight can result in a double tragedy. Oversights, mistakes happen when a person is not concentrating, when they are distracted, when they cannot give their full attention to the task at hand. This is what many midwives in overstretched maternity units face every day. Where labour ward is busy, perhaps 9 women and never more than 5 midwives to care for them. An emergency in one room can take 2 midwives away for an hour if a caesarian section is needed. There are still 8 women on labour ward but now there are only 3 midwives. Rare you might think. No this is an everyday, several times a day occurrence. If you were one of those 3 remaining midwives can you imagine the amount of stress they have placed under? Would you function at an optimal level? If anyone wants to know one of the major reasons midwives leave the profession you have just read it and as Frances Day-Stirk of the RCM said, regarding staffing, “Unless the issues that are causing midwives to leave the service are addressed and unless we ensure we train and educate sufficient numbers of midwives to come into the service, this will be a perennial issue.” It is a vicious circle, there are not enough midwives to safely cover a unit, the midwives who are there become stressed (not really a strong enough description), so they either end up off-sick, leaving the unit with less staff, or leave, also leaving the unit with less staff because the vacancy will not be filled for 3 – 6 months, so the remaining midwives become even more stressed. It’s hardly rocket science.

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Family dispute

I have a Mother, our relationship has always been somewhat explosive but it has now reached total meltdown and there is no communication. That’s not entirely true as I have e-mailed her twice since we ‘fell out’ but she has not deigned to respond. Before I have always been accused of ‘being like your Father’ and that is why we don’t get on (they are divorced and she has remarried) but today I hear that there are two other reasons. She and I may not be in an active relationship but she does, occasionally, phone my youngest daughter and today was one of those days. Much was discussed, Louis and his health concerns, she hasn’t yet seen the twins; my shingles, apparently you can’t have them more than once, and then the reasons why we are incommunicado. ‘People’ have told her that one of the reasons we don’t speak stems from the sale of her flat, it appears that I am worried I won’t get an inheritance. I was dumbfounded when I heard this, luckily daughter put her straight on whether or not I was a gold-digger, citing the fact that I had been married to Hubby for 30 + years and that would hardly be the action of someone who was only interested in money! The other ‘reason’ we have such a rocky relationship is that I feel she favours my sister. Now there may have been an element of truth in that one, 30 years ago, but I can honestly say that once I had recovered from the trials of my youth, was happily married and had a family of my own all the resentment I may have felt was no longer important. I say may as I don’t remember having an issue toward my sister, solely toward my parents. Hang on a minute here, she is talking to daughter as if it’s me not communicating with her, I have made contact, she hasn’t responded. This is the problem in a nutshell. She is never wrong, nothing is ever her fault. I could really rant here but I’m not going to, that is not the purpose of this blog entry. The purpose is to clear my head and try to decide on the appropriate action. Basically, where do I go from here?

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