Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Communication, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, data colllection, Giving information, Helping others, Human kindness, Human rights, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, Newborn, NHS, Obstetrics, parents, Psychology, PTSD, Respect, soeaking out, Student Midwives, unconscious bias, Women's health, Women's rights

Talking with strangers and unconscious bias in the NHS Maternity System

This blog is dedicated to Sandra Bland with love to her family #SayHerName ❤️

I have just finished reading the book “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell

The book is a critique of how we approach others through our body language speech, demeanour plus the various cues that we interpret or misinterpret according to our own life experiences, culture, colour , upbringing, religion or non religion , education , training ,inner feelings at that time and individual roles plus many other factors too numerous to list . One particular woman who in the book was Sandra Bland a black woman who was forced to change lanes on a highway because a police car was approaching with speed – the officer totally misinterpreted Sandra’s distress at being pulled over – he wasn’t kind with his words or approach and this led to Sandra being wrongfully arrested and she died in her cell three days later the verdict was suicide . When you listen to the recording of the officers first interaction with Sandra you can sense the irritation and suspicion in his voice as well as the tone he uses. He doesn’t see that Sandra may have vulnerabilities and that she is trying to calm herself by lighting a cigarette .

As a midwife I have witnessed disparity of care towards women depending on their social status, background, colour, culture and ethnicity- something I have challenged throughout my career . These experiences have often placed me in some difficult situations with colleagues. On one occasion I refused to allow someone from finance dept into the woman’s labour room . This years (2019) RCM International Day of the Midwife campaign was around Midwives as defenders and I wrote a blog about my interpretation of this . We must approach women placidly and an excerpt quote from the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann © 1927 illustrates this rather well.

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons

Unconscious bias is something we all have – This animation by Professor Uta Frith of The Royal Society explains unconscious bias in a concise way . It’s the 21st Century – time for all NHS staff to be educated, assessed and held to account around the subject of unconscious bias plus to question their own personal identity around this issue .

Here is a photograph of part of the philosophy of the Royal Society panel members – a philosophy for the NHS .

Whilst writing this blog I also came across this refreshing blog post for By ‪@SuzRankin‬ CEO of Ashford and St Peters NHS Foundation Trust, Chertsey , Surrey .

If you are a midwife I want you to start to question the way you speak to women and families that you meet and whether you treat each woman or person exactly the same despite their background , culture , colour, sexual orientation and education. Make an attempt to hear yourself as the woman hears you – be patient and thoughtful with your words and actions . Watch how other midwives speak about the women they care for (at the bedside and in the office ) and monitor one another for unconscious bias .

Did you see someone give the woman everyone recognised from a TV programme better care than the woman who arrived unannounced from the local homeless shelter ?

Please question everything you see and if you talk about it more when reviewing cases of different women you might see a pattern start to occur – that’s what you need to change. Does your incident reporting system include statistics on race , sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity? If not how can such incidents be thoroughly evaluated ?

How do you talk to the women you meet as strangers ? When you show patience, kindness, compassion and understanding you are building on the relationship and helping the woman to feel safe . This behaviour has an effect on the woman’s oxytocin response as her adrenaline and cortisol will be reduced as well as her own fears . You are putting her at ease – becoming a friend . If on the other hand you are brusque , rushed , impatient and critical you will put the woman on edge and increase her fear , pain and cortisol which will inhibit oxytocin production.

Are you pre judging a woman when she phones up the hospital for advice ? Does that judgment impact on the way you interact with the woman ? Do you feel calm or under pressure? Are you more or less patient with her in comparison to someone else you’ve recently cared for ? Are you imparting information and evidence of equal quality or do you feel a change in your own demeanour which may make the woman feel uncomfortable without realising?

Reflect on a situation when you didn’t feel listened to – that may have been a complaint to a store or a the way an employee at a restaurant/ service / shop spoke to you – do you recall how you were made to feel or how you reacted?

Black and Asian women have a higher risk of dying in pregnancy as the November 2018 MBRRACE-UK triennial report shows and as midwives we must question why this is happening as well as campaigning for this tragic disparity to end .

I will leave you with a quote by Paul Coelho

Further reading…

Thank you so much for reading

– Jenny ❤️

Human kindness, Kindness, leadership, Midwife, Midwifery, NHS

The Journey

On Friday 20.9.18 I presented via Skype to DeMontford midwifery society. I was in Wales presenting at the midwifery forum just before that . My journey back was not at all what I expected. For some reason my satnav decided to take me along narrow lanes and single track roads – No motorways 🛣 were harmed in the making of my journey 😂 . My average speed was 39 miles an hour so it took me almost 7 hours to get home.

I started to think about how midwifery is a journey that we set upon knowing our destination but not really contemplating how we are going to get there or indeed how unique each persons path is . There may be difficulty , loneliness, vulnerability , hunger , sore feet and tiredness – as well as friendship, happiness, compassion, satisfaction comfort and energy .

Each persons journey is totally different – some may take the motorway route and get there faster, some may walk, run, cycle and may take a break or leave the journey . My idea for my presentation was going to be how to make the journey .

Setting off on your journey of midwifery is about letting others know that you are on your way as this will give you support and strength knowing that those people are looking out for you .

The symbolism of wearing the right shoes will help you to feel able to walk in your own way – a good fit, stability and readiness for difficult paths inbuilt into your shoes will pass onto you that it’s not just about looks but dependability and longevity.

Self care and break time are a human right- break time is something that belongs to the person not the system do we talk about this enough ?

Find the things that give you joy and try to have key 🔑 friends outside your workplace 🏥 so you’re not always talking midwifery

  • Friends and family
  • Days out
  • Helping others
  • Self care
  • Reflection
  • Time out
  • Protected meal breaks
  • Planning trips
  • Walking
  • Exercise
  • Cooking

Taking a step away from the work environment to go to the canteen , sit outside. Taking a shower will give you a boost and help you feel refreshed and is one suggestion for self care so that you can help the women and colleagues you are with . Have a look at keeping a wash bag in your locker with shower gel , shampoo , deodorant and creams that you can use for yourself and also share with others .

I often think that about people who work in the corporate world let’s use finance as an example wouldn’t tolerate the work restrictions that many midwives have to deal with – no early finishes on Friday to network , no built in structure to ensure workload is distributed evenly , no protected time for online training , making those who work less hours to feel less a part of the team, missing meal breaks, being micromanaged , time in lieu when finishing late instead of pay -is this because we are predominantly female workforce ?

Midwives must seek out others who may act as their compass 🧭 , map 🗺 or guide. It may be a person not even connected with midwifery who is a good grounding force with an ability to listen not necessarily advise .

On my journey I have met many people some fake some real – by fake I mean those who pretend that everything in the garden is beautiful when truly it’s not. Real leaders don’t brush aside concerns or ignore those who are in difficulties at work , they nurture them and see past their rose coloured spectacles .

Consider not only your own journey but also how you behave toward others on their journeys . Do you equalise the voices of future midwives on the labour ward/ postnatal ward / birth centre / community and treat them as leaders or do you plain and simple see them as learners ?

With permanent staff , who are the ones whose voices are always the first to be heard ? Seek out the quieter ones as they too have their ideas and opinions . A midwife who thinks before she speaks to other colleagues will be one who is more likely to listen to women.

There is a dichotomy that exists in midwifery we are taught that we are autonomous practitioners in our own right yet we are micromanaged and constantly asked “where are you up to (with your work)?” In my opinion it’s up to us to rock this boat 🚣‍♂️ so we can stand strong for the women we care for and challenge time constraints so that we help others with a clouded view to see more clearly .

Becoming involved in someone else’s journey may make your journey more complicated but in time you will see it as an enrichment of your behaviour and realise that the best way to move forwards is always together .

In identifying the problems on your journey you will gain insight into how to improve and consider EVERY woman’s personal journey through maternity services ❤️

The analogy of never arriving keeps you grounded and helps you to stay humble .

Be kind to one another

With love Jenny ❤️

Being bullied, Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Change management, Courage, culture in nhs, data colllection, Digital, Discharge planning, Giving information, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, organisational development, Student Midwives, Working from the heart

Does the NHS need to rethink the way health professionals are made to approach their work ?

It’s been a while since my last blog. This post is to help those in the NHS whatever their role or position to consider that positive individuality makes for a better NHS . In embracing positive individuality all care will improve , status quo will be rocked and the NHS will develop doing things differently within your workplace.

Predictive text steps in as you type on your phone . Wikipedia have a link about predictive text CLICK HERE and surprisingly personal data in the way we write and assemble sentences means that each device is personalised to the user . This has set my brain off thinking that actually we are all diffferent generally. Sadly NHS management would like us to work in the same way a sort of “predictive” way of working . However humans are unpredictable that’s just how we are made. Are personalities and individualism therefore disregarded ? Let’s take for example shift work – some Trusts have a better family and also life friendly approach to staff . The Kings trust have researched that staff who are cared for and well-engaged make for a more successful NHS – that in turn has a positive effect on the people being cared for .

Midwifery cannot be like predictive text eg this is the way we do it , this is the length of time you need to help a woman, new offspring & partner postnatally before transfer to the ward and so on .

It’s time for managers to realise that each woman is as individual as the midwife who is “WITH” her . An acceptance that “this is the way that Midwife B works . Each midwife’s Way of working is in fact data. The midwife who spends longer explaining to the family who are going home (eg explaining symptoms of wellness , symptoms of illness , to contact the labour ward not the emergency department for advice , self care , and current evidence) is perceived as slower but in fact this is the midwife who probably is more thorough and probably a perfectionist who raises awareness in the women and families she meets .

If you ever get told you’re too slow – don’t take it as an insult take it as a compliment

You are dedicated , perceptive, compassionate, thorough and you promote self awareness to women and families

Keep on keeping on

Sending love to all the THOROUGH midwives nurses and other health care professionals out there in the NHS

Love , as always

Jenny ❤️

Antenatal education, Babies, Being a mum, being believed, Birth, Caesarean section, Charity, Communication, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, Fear of Birth, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Learning, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Postnatal care, Psychology, Respect, Student Midwives, Teaching, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart, Young mothers, Young women

Midwives – Defenders of women’s rights @JennyTheM ©️ #IDM2019

5.5.19 is international day of the Midwife and my blog is dedicated to all Midwives who have made a difference by defending a woman from any unnecessary intervention – be that anytime related to pregnancy 🤰🏾 antenatally , during any kind of birth or postnatally.

I’ve decided to share three stories which are true experiences written by midwives about defending women. One of the stories is mine but I won’t say which one .

As clinical midwives we are seen as equal members of the huge maternity wheel alongside women and their families, managers, obstetricians, future midwives , maternity support workers and many more – although in reality there is a hierarchy that many within our own discipline and other disciplines are striving to challenge and change .

The truth in plain sight is that just one member of the team is not engaged or equally involved (including the woman) then the intricate workings of the mechanism will be disrupted.

Women and families = get to know your midwife/midwives . Ask questions , be curious. Read books that are informative, recommended and that explain your bodies and your babies abilities with balance and clarity . Try the Positive Birth book by Milli Hill Click HERE to see on Amazon (founder of The Positive Birth Movement) .

Prepare yourself as much as you can. Don’t leave any stone of knowledge or information unturned . Join a positive birth group Click here to find out more . Be aware that midwives are defenders of women – talk to other women and find the midwife that helps you to believe in yourself . You’ll know when you’ve found her – don’t settle for second best. I believe women should rock the boat of maternity services like pregnancy pirates. Try reconnecting with midwife from a previous birth if you have other children – it’s evidence that continuity pf carer will reduce your chance of interventions so ask to see the same midwife at your appointments. Look at the birth statistics of your local units and choose wisely – ❤️ The Which birth guide is a good resource although might need updating Click HERE to view

Managers = be insightful of how staffing levels and skill mix will impact positively or negatively on birth outcomes – when you arrive to help us in our hour of need ask not what we can do but show us what you can do to improve our shift . Stay curious ❤️

Obstetricians = be mindful of the physiology of the female form and how your positive or negative behaviour will impact on the delicate balance of all hormones involved in playing out the birth process . Watch midwives working see them as equals . Stay curious ❤️.

Midwives = be aware of why you are a midwife. Embrace your role as not to

“do to”

but to

“be with”

to defend,to stand up for ,to support, to strengthen and to keep safe. Unite the team with your passion for all births❤️. Stay curious

Maternity support workers I am thankful for you all – you do support ❤️- your gratitude towards the midwives that make the toast and tea for the family and ensure rooms are left clean before transferring women from them . (we do ask other midwives to follow our suit) as we know you always have work to do within the scenes and behind them – running the operating theatre, birth-room turnaround time , restocking , clinical work, bringing the team together , being aware of all areas . The camaraderie and team work you display so strongly within your discipline is a benchmark for us all . Stay curious

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Three stories of defending

Read on reader ….

Story one

The elective premature Caesarean birth – a courageous Midwife

All eyes upon me , the baby is only 34 weeks old . The mother’s instinct to hold her newborn is tangible I hear her breath . The paediatric team stand around the resuscitaire , prepped , ready, waiting and impatient. Something inside me tells me “give the baby to the mother , give the baby to the mother” After delayed cord clamping I cocoon the newborn in a warm towel without touching and within seconds I’m helping the mother with her first embrace. Time stands still. I monitor the baby closely but without words for colour , breathing , heart rate (with my stethoscope) tone and reaction , a saturation monitor on the baby’s right hand (pre-ductal) reassures me. All is good . I offer to take photos of mum dad and baby, mum and baby , baby’s hands touching mum , many photographic variations evolve in so little time . I look across at the paediatrician- she knows me, trusts me – she smiles at me and nods mouthing “it’s ok” . Five or more minutes have passed – mum knows it’s time . Dad carries his newborn to be seen by the team . Mum is crying not with sadness but with joy that hers was the first skin to touch her newborns , then her partners – this is how every new beginning of life should be – we Midwives must step aside but wait in the wings ready to prompt or assist- our silent presence is reassuring to the family ❤️

It was all worth the fear – afterwards I hug the paediatrician and say “thank you for trusting me ” the mother scrolls through her photos in disbelief that her only ever precious child started its journey against her skin – I am a defender ❤️

Story Two

The “Failed” Induction challenging a decision

“Can I help ?” I offered “Oh great” replied the ward Midwife “we are so busy!! Can you go with the consultant to see the woman who’s Induction didn’t work ?”

I’d been sent from labour ward to help on the antenatal area . The consultant was counselling an elderly primigravida ( over 45 years old) . The woman “Joy” (false name) was being told that two attempts at induction and due to her age that a caesarean would be for the best . I was sent to get the consent sheets . I’d just completed the AQUA shared decision making course and I was keen to put what I’d learnt into practice.

The time on the clock was 16.55 so bear that in mind .

What happened next was that the consent forms were handed to the woman after the risk of Caesarean was explained . The woman dutifully signed the consent forms and the consultant left the department. Something inside me told me this didn’t feel right . My instinct and experience made me go back to the woman and her partner. I asked them if they were okay with everything. In fact I went as far as saying “are you okay about your Caesarean birth?” They both voiced their concerns but felt they haven’t been given a choice. I wanted to discuss further so I went to the phone and rang the consultant to return . The phone call did not go well -the consultant was quite irked that I’d phoned told me to check the clock and to ring the consultant on call.

I rang the on call consultant who came and discussed further the choices the woman had with her and her partner . She opted for an attempt at labour following artificial rupture of her membranes which would all take place on the labour ward .

To cut a long story short the woman progressed to 5cm dilatation and remained there . She was very pleased with the fact that she’d experienced labour and been listened to . Her caesarean birth was a positive unhurried experience.

A few weeks later I came face to face with the first consultant one my day off – I’d come into work to attend a two hour study session . The consultant openly criticised me in front of a new senior registrar who I’d never met before – belittled springs to mind . “Thank you for overruling my decision to plan a Caesarean without labour” were the words. I stated clearly that the best way to clarify the situation was to determine how the woman felt – “are you invited to the naming ceremony of the baby ?” I asked “no” was the consultant’s curt reply – “well here’s my invite” I said (by coincidence I’d found it in the staff mail box that day) . The consultant went quiet and walked away . I am a defender ❤️

Story Three

Rebalancing the birth hormones

I met Nasrit about one hour into my shift in the morning. (name changed) . The community midwives has brought her in because her labour had slowed then stopped. Nasrit was having her third child, she lived with anxiety and panic attacks which were inherited from her childhood . My opinion was that her fear had disrupted her birth hormones – I discussed this with her – she held my hand tightly . I went to the midwives station and put Nasrit’s name on the board – as I did I could hear staff chipping in “does she need an ARM?” “Get the syntocinon running when the Reg arrives ” “is she actually labouring ?”

I pretended not to hear the comments . I was going to go back to Nasrit, Nasrit’s partner and Nasrit’s mother . My plan was to try and get Nasrit into a birthing state of mind . I wanted to make her at home. In giving her possession of her room I made her space – no lights , quiet , no interruptions and a haven for her birth . I keep a set of battery powered fairy lights in my locker and I’m trained to use aromatherapy. My key goals were to make sure I had everything in the room that Nasrit needed and nothing in the room that anyone else needed -there were going to be no interruptions. I used a blend of lavender and frankincense in hot water as a room infusion. I explained to Nasrit how aromatherapy would work. I then turned off all the lights and switched on the fairy lights . As an equal I explained to Nasrit and her family how relaxing can help oxytocin and that anxiety can hinder by producing cortisol and adrenaline . Nasrit was with me . I sat and held her hand (at her request ) we all waited without talking . I reiterated that there was no pressure . It took about 15 minutes for Nasrits heart rate to drop from 96 to 68 – she was breathing more calmly .

Over the next two hours Nasrit’s labour recommenced and soon she was holding her newborn skin to skin . I never left the room .

All was well

I am a defender ❤️

Summary

So the reason for my blog is for you to try and reflect on your own practice as a midwife and find those times when you were a defender. Look to see when you recognise fellow defenders through their words and actions . Try not to ask “does this feel right for the woman ? ” “is the woman’s face reflecting agreement or disagreement ”

Stay curious and keep defending

❤️We are defenders❤️

#IDM2019

Post script dedication I’m dedicating this blog to all midwives in hardship – whether physically, emotionally or financially. The Cavell Trust is a charity that helps nurses , health care assistants , maternity support workers and midwives Click HERE for more information

Thank you for reading my blog .

Yours in midwifery love

JennyTheM ❤️

Stay curious

and like Professor Lesley Page (@Humanisingbirth on Twitter) be the leader of the dance ❤️❤️

Anaesthetics, Antenatal education, Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, Fear of Birth, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Learning, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, zero separation

The birth of my son

25 years ago today I gave birth by Caesarean to my second child . A boisterous boy to compliment my daughter who had been waiting to become a big sister for over 5 years .

I was so excited about going into labour as I was now a midwife – I “knew” what to do – I felt positive and excited .

A few weeks before my due date I suspected my baby was breech and told the consultant “Oh Jenny why are you doing self palpation ? “It’s obviously cephalic” he said (I didn’t know I was going to have a boy ) – “stop worrying!!”

Off I went on my merry way .

Fast forward to my term appointment with my midwife (I had started to have a few niggles but I was determined not to rush into hospital and previous complications meant a home-birth wasn’t an option) . My midwife confirmed my concerns – the baby is breech and there’s nothing in the pelvis at all . I was sent to the hospital – I felt annoyed with myself .

About 5 hours later I was in theatre having a spinal in preparation for a Caesarean. In those days the false evidence of the vaginal breech trial was forced upon many women – I was frightened into having a Caesarean – I truly felt robbed .

I took it all on the chin and decided that it as a midwife would be an asset to have experience of normal birth and Caesarean. This personal experience of mine would help women to know that I’d understand and support them through any birth .

At my Caesarean my son was born – I saw him for less than a few seconds and he was whisked out of theatre into an ante room . There he was wiped down, rubbed, touched and handled by midwives. Then my son was measured,weighed, given vitamin k dressed and wrapped up . I didn’t hold him for 4 hours and I wish I’d been able to.

Not having skin to skin contact in the Operating theatre hasn’t affected the relationship I have with my son . I did however long to hold him whilst I was in theatre and kept asking where he was and when I could see him.

Not having skin to skin contact has made me determined to educate women and those who attend birth in the operating theatre as to why skin to skin it’s so utterly important- it’s a physiological norm for human mammals .

Each time I’m with a woman in the operating theatre I don’t feel angry or upset about my experiences- I just feel very thankful and grateful that times are changing and that skin to skin is becoming normal in the theatre environment.

Skin to skin was never mentioned to me at all for my son’s birth – God forbid a woman would want to hold her baby whilst being operated on in the 1990s !!

Well thank goodness times have changed and that there are lots of brilliant midwives, theatre nurses , obstetricians, anaesthetists and operating department practitioners who know why skin to skin matters . In helping families they are changing the system. They realise that birth in the Operating theatre isn’t about “their theatre” functioning in the same way it always had done but about making the Operating theatre a “family space” .

Once I got to the ward a dear colleague of mine (who has since retired) came to see me and asked me if I’d had skin to skin contact. I hadn’t even fed my son yet!! – luckily my son was a sturdy 8 pounder . My lovely friend passed my son to me so that I could take his sleep suit off , explore his skin , check his fingers and toes , gaze into his face and start our journey as mother and son . He was soon breastfeeding and I felt relieved that my friend had supported me .

If you are wondering whether I’d be such a protagonist for skin to skin if my second birth had been different? I know I would be !! The infamous Dr Nils Bergman set off my interest in why skin to skin matters for all newborns and he instilled in me a duty to spread the word.

I am really proud to have helped many women to overcome their doubts and fears about skin to skin in the operating theatre and I hope I continue this journey with many more families.

This blog is dedicated to my son and daughter who have made me the mother who I am .

Happy birthday son ❤️.

Thank you all for reading.

With love

❤️Jenny ❤️

Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Night shifts in the NHS, Obstetrics, organisational development, shift handover, Student Midwives, Working from the heart

This is the way it’s always been – Labour ward night shift to day shift handover NHS ❤️

You may find yourself on a NHS Labour ward at approximately 7am one morning . Everyone is assembling for morning handover . Over the shoulders is being lifted up into bobbles and held back by clips. Pens, hand-creams, mints , note books , mini hand gels all squeezed into powerful pockets. The “not allowed” mobiles are hidden from plain sight “just in case my son/daughter’s school need me” or to “google something”

Some night shift midwives sit in the office desperate to get home – they look worn out and you want to hug them saying “you will go home on time” but you know it’s a lie Other midwives are out of sight – they remain “with woman” in rooms praying that the handover will go smoothly with minimal interruptions. They want the transition from one midwife to another to be compassionate, woman centred, slow and not hurried .

“Don’t forget the midwife on the birth centre – the woman she’s midwifing is in the pool and about to give birth any minute” says the maternity support worker as she leaves . “Has that Midwife had a break?” – “Not sure” comes the reply.

Drs hang around to chip in with their findings and recommendations as well as chomping on leftover unappetising snacks from the tea trolley. The wheeled aluminium “redeployed” dressing trolley cocoons several slices of curled up toast covered with re solidified butter and cups of cold tea in a hard steel exterior as if to say “this wasn’t my original job”

Seats are hard to come by and woe betide the future midwife who gets a chair before a senior Midwife . Some staff arrive late and hide just behind the door pretending they’ve been there all along – but they did go home late last night . Not one manager in sight .

There are comments circulating “I didn’t leave until 10pm last night!! ” “I’ve only had one day post nights now I’m back on days” “my son is poorly but I’ve sent him to school” “how is ***** in room 2?” “who is in theatre ?”

The labour ward lead’s face demands silence – report starts 3 minutes late – you can taste the angst .

The night staff are supposed to finish their shift approximately 15 minutes after the day shift start theirs . The night shift rarely leave on time and luckily someone has the foresight to recognise that the maternity support workers can go home as their reinforcements have arrived to take over – they like the new shift midwives and Drs smell of new freshly applied deodorant . Many perfumes and aftershaves mingle and brighten up the stale office air. The virtual RHS of the NHS in one tiny space.

Now do the math -for one lead Midwife to hand over the cases and care of 8-16 women to the other in just 5 minutes (depending on the different labour wards in the nhs ) so that the day team can split and go to their allocated families, THEN have another more detailed handover (but VERY similar in principal to the one in the handover room) is nigh on impossible- in fact it is INCROYABLE.

So many night staff leave late – some have many miles and hours to drive or travel in a post nights shift state of mind in order to reach the comfort of their own slumber stations. Some wisely choose to pay to sleep in hospital accommodation as they daren’t risk driving. Others travel as they don’t want to be away from home , they need to be up at 2.30pm to collect their children or their children’s children from school and then possibly cook dinner then prepare themselves for their third or fourth night shift .

Staff leave but not before putting their “time owing” in the designated book – it’s not paid you see – even thought leaving late is beyond their control . This is the NHS

So what’s the solution ? I’m not sure there even is one. If you compare the way office workers start their day there is a great disparity happening between humans who work.

It’s about time staff handover had a shake up – be punctual, be succinct , keep your opinions out of report , respect ALL. Allow each midwife to handover each women / family she/he is caring for with the back up of a written SBAR and encourage the lead midwife to take a step back . Someone somewhere must have an idea ??

It’s a handover state of mind .

We are all leaders

Thank you for reading

My thoughts

Jenny The M ❤️©

Courage, culture in nhs, leadership, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Psychology, Respect

The Art of Leadership © Jenny Clarke

So many books , blogs , articles have been written about leadership and what it means to be a leader .

Bad, poor and insufficient leadership will and does impact on many lives within the work environment as well as lots of public places that we visit – poor leadership highlights faults in schools , places of education, libraries, cafes , shops and transport among many others.

In the NHS frontline employees exist within the world of patients , colleagues, service users and relatives. Sometimes in their lives those employees cross from that “safe” world to become a visitor in it as they help their own relatives at appointments, visits to accident and emergency departments, hospital wards , maternity units and may even become service users themselves.

Today I took my family out for breakfast. My daughter and her partner, my son , my niece and her daughter (my great niece) . Four of us had variations of the same breakfast , one had a routine breakfast, my great niece had a children’s portion of an adult meal and we played around with the coffee choices . The young woman who served us kept her cool all the way through the order and never once did her smile drop , “Katie” said “yes” to all our demands and agreed to everything. Even though I could feel the eyes of the person behind me boring a hole into the back of my head , Katie was impervious to this . So in my view Katie is a leader she is an ambassador for the place we ate at . Because of Katie we will go again – separately or together.

Leaders are people who give others positive experiences, they are kind , compassionate and caring . Leaders understand. Leaders don’t embarrass people in front of others or put themselves first . Leaders don’t embarrass themselves – non leaders do .

Leaders put others first -right at that moment when others need to be put first . The nurse who helps the elderly man through the heavy non-automatic hospital doors is a leader . The cleaner who stops doing his job to show someone the right way to a department is a leader .

The manager who pulls a Midwife out of a room (where the midwife is caring for a woman in advanced labour) to discuss “an issue” is not a leader . The professional who berates a colleague in front of other colleagues is not a leader . The colleague who stops the professional from doing this is a leader . The junior Dr who answers the labour ward phone because everyone is busy and tries her best to deal with the call is a leader .

A leader doesn’t brag , belittle , gossip or drag down . A leader is self effacing , true , shows continuous integrity and raises others up .

A leader simply goes about doing the best she/he can to make life better for others and this in turn will make her/ his own life more enjoyable.

Leadership is not about control but about uplifting others ❤️

Look for the leaders where you work . Aspire to be like them – make a note of what it is about them that you admire.

Put some of that magic into your own self at work .

If you’d like to read another blog I have written about leadership for NHS Leadership Academy called “Leadership Is an every day event” then please Click here to read

Be kind ❤️

My thoughts

Thank you for reading

JennyTheM ❤️

Children, culture in nhs, data colllection, Digital, freedom of information, Hospital, human resources, Labour , birth, leadership, Media, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, occupational health, organisational development, parents, Patient care, soeaking out, staff allocation, Student Midwives

Raising perceptions of midwifery ©️

This is a current drive in the NHS so I’ve decided it’s time for me to blog about it .

We are often told as midwives that it’s not about working harder but working smarter .

I’d like to try and find out if there is data collected about individual Trusts . The data would perhaps identify times when staffing was low , what the risks were to the women and the pattern of incident reports on those occasions . I also suggest that all maternity units have a duty of care to their staff to maintain accurate , exact records on how women are allocated to midwives, midwives individual workloads and time spent on NHS computers for work and personal use – this should be reviewed on a monthly basis and as part of FOI be available to the public . Do NHS Trusts that are using their own full time maternity staff to supplement staff absence and sickness assess the wellbeing of those staff? Is there a collaboration with occupational health , organisational development and Human Resources departments to review whether or not satisfactory and timely breaks were given. When this is quantified does it identify a distinct association with lack of breaks , working unpaid overtime , poor culture and is there a correlation with staff sickness and absence ?

it’s time now to look at the bigger picture and collect data on these topics as well as birth statistics , outcomes , morbidly and mortality .

Thank you for reading

Yours in midwifery love

Jenny ❤️