Posts Tagged ‘Supervision of Midwives’

What does a midwife do?

A midwife does far more than just deliver babies. Although a vital part of her role, assisting at the birth is a small part of her overall job and responsibility.

Childbirth in Europe has never been safer and much of this is down to the professionalism and standards of the 21st century midwife.

Typically a midwife will work in partnership with women and their families to give support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period.

In the UK Midwives work both alone and with a range of other health professionals as best meets the need of the women and families that they care for.

Midwives work in the community and in stand-alone birth centres as well as in hospitals.

Some midwives work within the NHS, others within private health care systems and some have their own businesses on a self-employed basis. NMC 03.03.2008

In the UK they are also subject to regulation in the form of supervision. This takes the form of notifying the NMC yearly of their intention to practise, declaring their fitness to do so and undergoing a yearly interview with their Supervisor of Midwives, SoM. At this event our record-keeping is examined, our updating verified and our Patient Group Directions, PGD’s, reviewed.

For those midwives working within NHS Trusts, whether on a contract or as ‘bank’, there are also mandatory study days. At present I have 3 such days per year, next year there will be 4. These study days cover a range of topics, from ‘obstetric emergencies’ through to ‘equality and diversity’, ‘risk management’ to ‘fire lecture’. It’s very much a case of one size fits all, community or hospital, labour ward or antenatal clinic, manager or preceptor, you’re a midwife so you attend.

Another yearly requirement is the IPR, an appraisal system where our competencies are reviewed using the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF), I’ve just undertaken mine, hence this post. I’m pleased to report that I am fulfilling all the criteria for my role, that I require no money to be spent on furthering my knowledge base and that no one has made a complaint about me. When I told my appraiser that I was demotivated, couldn’t wait to retire and was concerned that the low staffing levels were affecting the care we could provide she (a manager) agreed that the situation was appauling and that she was also looking forward to retiring. What an inspiration!

KSF isn’t enough though, there is also the 360° assessment. I just love all this clap-trap, what better way could there be to spend my time? This peer review process is designed to foster individual accountability for professional development and practice, as well as group accountability for overall quality of professional practice” (Toward Clinical Excellence., 2002). I just love all this clap-trap, what better way could there be to spend my time? 

So what does a midwife do? She wades through acronyms virtually every minute of her working day, whether it is listening to the FH, taking a FBC or talking to the ANC you can be sure that she is registered as an RM; has been assessed using KSF and is having trouble finding time for her caseload duties whilst turning 360 and negotiating all this bureaucratic sh1t.

*NMC – Nursing and Midwifery Council


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It’s that time of year again when all good midwives have to notify their intention to practise to The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). A form is sent through which the midwife has to complete and then it has to be signed by the named Supervisor of Midwives (SoM). The role of the SOM is to ‘provide support and advice to midwives to ensure their practice is consistent with the regulatory framework. The purpose of supervision of midwives is to protect women and babies by actively promoting a safe standard of midwifery practice.’ Blah, blah. It’s not that I have any problem with supervision, it should, hopefully, ensure that all midwives keep up to date and are safe practitioners but, what about the system itself? It’s wonderful that all midwives are supervised, regulated but if their working environment allows unsafe situations to arise, I’m thinking lack of equipment, insufficient staff then it takes an age for anything to be done, Northwick Park being a good example. How many maternal deaths were there before the Healthcare Commission stepped in? It was 10 and it was over a 3 year period. What good is it, ensuring all the midwives are, in essence, safe practitioners when the Trust they are employed by does not have safe staffing levels of midwives or doctors? 

Anyway, I spoke to my Supervisor as I couldn’t remember when my last supervisory interview was, apparently it was last February so my next one is due imminently, we have agreed that it can be safely left until after I return to work and in the meantime she is happy to sign my form for me. That’s a relief!

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