Last week daughter announced that she was seeing light at the end of the tunnel as far as the boys are concerned, then Friday happened. She was downstairs when sh noticed water coming from around the light fitting in her hall, swiftly followed by an ominous dripping sound in the utility room. She rushed upstairs to discover Louis watching with interest what happens when you’ve blocked the plughole of a sink with loo paper and then turned on the tap. It was all too late though. By the time she had mopped up all the water from the bathroom floor, water was coming out of the light switches and the ceiling plaster downstairs had descended onto the sopping wet hall carpet. Along with her home lights the light at the end of the tunnel has gone out.
Tomorrow I return to work and the day starts well with a meeting to discuss the staff shortages. Staffing is dire and, according to reports, this is due to an increase in midwifery posts remaining unfilled. I wonder why there is a problem with retention of midwives, I don’t really as I talk to midwives who are leaving and everyone has the same gripe (locally), I don’t do this job to be treated like ****, be unsupported and not provide the care I would like to. When people ask what work I do the majority of people respond with ‘ Oh, what an amazing job, so rewarding’. I used to agree with them, it was rewarding, I did feel appreciated, I was supported and, most importantly, I felt I did a good job. Now? Well now I spend all my time watching my back, if a woman isn’t looking to complain about something, then the Trust is on the lookout for ways to get rid of expensive, experienced midwives. I read articles in the media assuring women that they ‘have a right’, government initiatives lead women to expect that their every wish will be fulfilled, and faceless commentators on sites such as Mumsnet reinforce women’s belief that a midwife’s personal safety* should not be an issue as she ‘has a duty of care’. I feel as if any rights that I may have thought I had have been swept away and left me, as a midwife, extremely vulnerable and, worse of all, I’m not able to provide the routine care that I feel the women and their families deserve.
I think that midwives should take a leaf out of the tube workers book, after all we have a lot in common, both our work involves tubes, they drive through them and I take blood from them, test fluid from them, investigate them and help extract little people from them. There the similarities end. They are taking industrial action as they feel that safety is being compromised due to the reduction in staffing, us midwives, we just leave or carry on covering up the gaps in the service. We are voiceless and ultimately colluders in our own unhappiness.
‘Black Dog’ was the phrase Winston Churchill used for his depression. I’m not clinically depressed, just depressed about the current state of the maternity services and knowing that there is worse to come.
* This demonstrates the measures taken by one Trust to reduce risk for their community midwives. My Trust gives us a training day on personal safety, if they didn’t then they would be at risk of failing in their duty of care as it is recognised as good practice. We all have mobile phones, handy for anyone who wants to contact us but pretty useless if we encounter an unexpected, sudden threat. We do not go out in pairs at night, the first contact is by a lone midwife as sending out 2 midwives is ‘too expensive’.