Midwives quit over dangerous work conditions
A report by the Royal College of Midwives has concluded that many are leaving the profession due to excessive workloads and poor staffing levels. Over 52% of those that had left in the last two years said that they were not happy with staffing levels and 48% were unhappy with the quality of care they were able to provide.
Among the findings of the report were that some midwives were working over 12 hour shifts without a break and 15 mums and babies being cared for by just one midwife.
The implications of this for patient care are obvious. If midwives are overworked and understaffed, the risk of mistakes being made will increase. We have seen instances in which decisions appear to have been made for expediency, and not because they are in the patient’s best interests.
The results of mistakes during labour can be life changing and devastating to those involved and therefore anything that can be done to reduce these must be welcomed. The report makes a series of recommendations which, if adopted would hopefully reduce the number of midwives leaving the profession and lead to fewer staff shortages. While this is a good start, it is clear that much more is needed before mums and babies have the level of care and support they need during what should be one of the happiest moments of their lives.
In our investigations of birth injuries we have seen how staffing levels can have a detrimental effect on the care provided. The Royal College of Midwives sets minimum standards for patient contact and records keeping. However, we want to see better staffing levels and hopefully a lower rate of birth injuries which would lead to fewer victims having to seek redress in the courts.