Archive for November, 2010

I’m about to write an assignment centred around the perspectives of childbearing women, and I could really do with some input from the ‘other side of the fence’. I know what I believe is important, and the area where I think the maternity services should focus but I would really appreciate an honest snap-shot of ‘consumer’ opinion. Where it says ‘Other’ then I hope that voters express themselves and perhaps explain why they rate one aspect more highly than another. If it doesn’t have enough space, or anyone has loads to say then please leave a comment.

It doesn’t matter when, where or if you had a baby. It would be useful though if you could identify your gender in the spare box as then I can identify if perspectives are affected by this. 

Thank you for your time.

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I’m still not 100% certain but I think that I will be the proud owner of a new fridge/freezer tomorrow morning, all thanks to a wonderful man called Barry. My knight in overalls arrived yesterday, heard about my problems to date, examined the offending white goods and then reached for his phone. My latter day Galahad tore several strips off the supplier and within 5 minutes I could have the choice of a refund or a new appliance, I went for the new appliance as they said that they could deliver it on Friday. On a whim I phoned the supplier this morning to find out if it would arrive in the morning or afternoon, and thank heaven that I did, as it hadn’t been booked! Just as I was about to erupt they assured me that they were, as we spoke, pressing the necessary keys and that I could choose when it would arrive, ‘Morning, please’. Now the waiting begins, will it, won’t  it arrive?

So, now that the winter has arrived, I can keep frozen food outside as long as I protect it from the foxes and badgers. Absolutely bitter outside, not a good time to be on call, frozen windscreens and icy roads are not a good start to a call out. I did have a lovely home birth, after many false alarms and a great deal of head scratching a couple of cold nights ago. It was one of those instances where all the advice to the couple was that baby should be born in the hospital as there were ‘deviations from the norm’, they ignored all the advice. Thankfully all went well though and when I left their home they were overjoyed, and so was I!

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This has been a week where the papers have been full of the crisis in the maternity services, from the shortage of midwives, to David Cameron back-tracking on his pledges, to women being so traumatised by their first birth experience that they will not be having another baby, to women having never clapped eyes before on the midwife who accompanied them through labour and birth and through to the ‘postcode lottery’ surrounding caesarean section rates and other aspects of maternity care.

Cathy Warwick, the General Secretary of the RCM (Royal College of Midwives) gave a speech at conference this week which painted a hugely demoralising, depressing and, frankly, scary picture of the state of the maternity services. Her speech was sprinkled with phrases like ‘ cracking point’, ‘ safety could be compromised’, ‘so stretched it risks safety’ and ‘bewildered’. Well Ms Warwick, you hold the key, you are the union chief so stop prevaricating and issue a few ultimations as it’s quite obvious that the gently, gently approach is not going to halt the collapse of the maternity services.

I’m finding all this quite interesting, this most public of admissions regarding the safety of the maternity services. Midwives talk to each other, especially at conferences and exhibitions and we have just had our annual conference, and currently there are rumours circulating regarding a case where a Trust is busy sanctioning staff for putting updates on a social networking site. The midwives had questioned the safety of the care they were able to provide, now they are accused of bringing the Trust into disrepute. How is it that Ms Warwick is able to shout from the rooftop that the maternity services are ‘at breaking point’ but that practising midwives are currently under scrutiny for allowing acquaintances to share in their desperation and concerns?

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The title says it all. The manufacturer’s engineer, the one the manual tells you to call, wrote it off on Tuesday. The supplier refuses to accept his assessment and are coming out NEXT Wednesday to examine it, not replace it, not repair it, ‘to examine’ it. My diet is going really well now as we have no food in the house!

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Identity issue

One month ago we bought a new fridge freezer to replace our old faithful workhorse who, at 31 years old, was having difficulties keeping food frozen. There was a great deal of head-scratching over which to get as the combinations just didn’t fit our criteria. The old one had a large freezer and a small fridge, excellent for us as this domestic appliance lives in the utility room and the fridge section is only used for storing milk and alcohol and we have a larder fridge in the kitchen for everything else but now all the combinations involve a large fridge and smaller freezer. Eventually we settled on a 50/50 combination, freecycled the old appliance, with the warning that it was rather erratic and settled down to refrigeration in the 21st century.

Yesterday I took the grandchildrens dinner out of the freezer and thought that it felt slightly soft. Hmm, put the thermometer in the freezer to see what the temperature was, put an ice-cube tray in to see if it froze and waited. 2 hours later the thermometer told me the temp was -1, refrigeration level so I turned the thermostat right down. This morning my first port of call was to the white beasty, still the same. I phoned the number in the manual, yes they would come out Thursday. NO! I phoned the manufacturer. Lots of questions and then, ‘Are the door seals inflated?’ Well, I had a look and they did seem slightly flat, certainly not ‘inflated’ so I reported this back to the woman on the other end of the phone. ‘Right. What you need to do is get a hot cloth and wipe the seals to inflate them. If we send an engineer round and they aren’t inflated we will charge you for the call-out. Phone back tomorrow if that hasn’t worked’. I have wiped the seals with a hot cloth and checked for splits, neither action was in the manual as something which should be done in case of malfunction, and so far I haven’t noticed any difference, my freezer still thinks it’s a fridge.

This all seems so absurd that, rather than be irate, I just keep laughing. My freezer doesn’t work, inflate your door seals. My freezer doesn’t work, see you Thursday. My frozen food is all defrosting, well you can’t claim from us, even though it’s only 1 month old and still under warrantee, claim from your household insurance and lose your no claims. I have slipped into another dimension where the customer is always wrong.

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So, the petition regarding the Maternity Services is well underway and now has nearly 1,000 signatures, here’s hoping that it works.

When you go to the petition page you can click on signatures and here people have left comments, and for this midwife they make sad reading. For years now I have felt like a voice in the wilderness, whingeing away about the maternity services, bemoaning the midwife’s lot and warning about how stretched the service is, this afternoon I read many other midwives viewpoints, and I felt unbelievably sad, I was right and I really wish I hadn’t been. The words were so familiar ‘ midwives leaving in droves’; ‘midwives need more support’, ‘women and their families suffer’, ‘we need to stop the system falling apart’ and then the succinct  ‘the service only survives on the good will of front line staff to go above and beyond, a good deal of luck and a vast amount of prayer! while management appear to work on the basis that if no complaints role in, who cares how the work load is being managed, but when they do it is the individuals who get hauled over the coals to be paraded before those who have complained to show that the matter has been dealt with. midwives need help and support. i have been qualified for nearly 10 years, and cant wait to leave the profession – i love being a midwife, i hate the politics, lack of staff, lack of support, lack of equipment and the expectation of the management that we will do what it takes to get the job done, not what we are paid to do.’

The organisers of the petition are trying to publicise it, apparently ITV Daybreak are interested but are checking with their lawyers (?) to make sure they are safe to run with it. The TV also want, understandably, to interview midwives, so far there are no midwives leaping up to appear on telly, I wonder why.

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The Midwife has launched her petition about the UK maternity services here and this is what it says –

Demoralised, powerless, overworked, scared and ignored……. Five words one should never need to hear from Midwives.

So why is it that more and more Midwives in the UK are feeling this way?

In the UK the role of the Midwife is being stretched to such an alarming
length that many feel something soon will snap and none of them want it
to be on their shift! Valuable, experienced and amazingly talented
midwives are leaving the profession because they feel they are treading a
very fine line between life and death.

This isn’t an over dramatisation of facts this is how the system is currently….. and yes we mean currently in 2010 not 1810!!

Midwives expected to care for more labouring mothers than is recommended,
Midwives working past their salaried shifts, Babies and Mothers left
unchecked because there simply isn’t anyone to check them, basic human
needs such as refreshment and comfort breaks are being scrapped because
quite simply…. if the Midwife leaves to have her break there would be
no one to care for the Mothers & Babies!

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) estimates that an extra 5,000
midwives are needed in England alone simply to offer a basic standard of

“If it is a system failure then if anything goes wrong the Midwife will be covered”

Not according to The Nursing and Midwifery Council [NMC] code which says: As
a professional, you are personally accountable for actions and
omissions in your practice and must always be able to justify your

Anyone that has tried to blame the system will know… it isn’t easy.

“So tell someone up top!”

Indeed… it also states in the NMC: You must inform someone in authority if you experience problems that
prevent you working within this code or other nationally agreed
standards. You must report your concerns in writing if problems in the
environment of care are putting people at risk

 This has been done by countless Midwives and it is apparent that no action is being taken to improve things.

“Why don’t they go on strike?”

Well that would be a start, that would be one way of bringing the public
awareness to a slippery slope situation. But here’s the spanner in that
work…. Midwives are not permitted to strike or rather they are but are
bound by their duty of care codes.. see NMC code reference above!

“OK so how can we help?”

Sign this petition to show that you would like to see a major overhaul of
the Maternity Care System especially the working conditions, patient
safety and rights of the Midwife.
Also in the comments please let us know if you would be willing to take part in a peaceful protest in London next year.

The UK Maternity System needs reviewing
urgently to ensure the safety of Mothers and Babies
Just to point out, I am not ‘The Midwife’. Wish I was and hope that she is rather more successful than I am in bringing to the political fore the abysmal state of the maternity services.

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I am full of hope, yes me, Mrs Doom and Gloom is being positive. Why is this strange feeling being allowed to grow inside this miserable being? Well, an M.P, David Amess has made a call for more midwives citing an admission from the Prime Minister ‘ that the profession is stretched to breaking point, overworked and demoralised’. Yeah, we might actually be on the agenda now, is that what having all three major party leaders in the child-bearing epoch of their lives will do for the maternity services?

More exciting for me is a Facebook site, The Midwife. I’ve been following her for a while now, often laughing at her take on labour ward life and the midwife/medic relationship but last week, during an interchange about the firemans industrial action, the subject of midwives and their concerns came up. Commentators questioned how we could bring about an improvement in the maternity services via industrial action. Working to rule, striking, marching on parliament and petitions were all mulled over, the pros and cons discussed. Midwives will not strike, it would be just as difficult to work to rule, we may detest the fact that we frequently work hours over our contracted hours without pay but many of us would be unable to actually ‘down tools’ at the end of our shift if there were still women and babies requiring our care. With those options ruled out it looks as if we will protest and seek support via an on-line petition. As yet ‘The Midwife’ and her helper (not a midwife) have not gone live with the petition, and we don’t yet know the content or format, but rest assured, as soon as it is published I shall be linking to it.

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