Life as a midwife can be unpredictable but we are always aware on community when it will be busy, just a shame that we can’t be certain which days will be manic and which will just be non-stop. March was a ‘quiet’ month visit wise which was fantastic, we could catch-up with all those add-ons which are mandatory but not time sensitive, however antenatally it was busy. Oodles of pregnant women at the stage of their pregnancy when they start having 2 weekly midwife appointments, if we hadn’t got records showing that a baby boom should be expected in April/May our antenatal clinic’s would alert us to it.
I dread busy clinics, something has to suffer and what I end up minimising is the ‘chat time’. I have to fill in all the paperwork demanded for audit, stats designed by my manager, work timings by the PCT and that’s not even including the woman’s notes and inputting consultation info onto the G.P’s computer. Midwives have been warned that if we fail to submit the bureaucratic paper mountain, ‘stat’, then our pay will be delayed. To me, having the time to sit and talk to my women is often as important as completing their notes, issues we discuss then and any worries they might communicate when they are relaxed can be vital. Having to fill in forms as if they are going out of fashion (wish they would) and hustle women out of the consulting room leaves me feeling as if I am shortchanging the women and not fulfilling my role of being ‘with woman’.
The answer to reducing much of a midwife’s paperwork duplication would be for us to have notebooks or laptops, no, too expensive. Pathetic, shortsighted attitude. All our managers have Blackberry’s, even though they spend the majority of their time in a office, next to a telephone and with their ‘own’ PC in front of them, plus a secretary. Out on community we have 5 chairs in our office, 2 telephones and one PC, most days there are 6 midwives in the office and on some days there also 6 students. Community midwifery has been in existance for 70 years but it operates as if it is a new concept, an add-on which is not considered worth funding, but who does all the initial maternity bookings? Who provides the majority of antenatal and postnatal care? Who is responsible for identifying vulnerable families and liasing with social services and other agencies? Can’t speak for other areas but locally it is the community midwife, the hugely underfunded element of the maternity services where paperwork, even if it has the capability of detracting from patient care is paramount and he area where, when there is a time-saving option which could allow patient care not to be affected, it is dismissed as being too expensive!