This is a copy of the letter I have written to my local hospital trust tonight. I have sent similar to my local Healthwatch, CCG (clinical commissioning group), MVP (maternity voices partnership), MP and the Secretary of Health. I would be delighted if you would copy it and send to your local hospital, and your local versions of the ones above. It is quite easy to find their emails with a quick google search. #Enough
I was reading today about the number of midwives leaving the profession. The State of Maternity Services Report released this week by the Royal College of Midwives revealed that there are only 67 extra midwives in the whole of England last year despite 2,000 midwives completing their training because of the high numbers of midwives resigning due to stress and burn out.
I was alerted to this while reading this sad and shocking personal account of a midwife contemplating leaving her work, published in All 4 Maternity, (who also publish The Practicing Midwife magazine).
In the commentary that accompanies the account, esteemed midwife Sheena Byrom, who has visited the L&D I believe, also highlighted the findings of a survey of RCM members published earlier this year, the UK WHELM study, that found that 83% of those who responded said they were suffering personal burnout and two thirds were considering leaving.
This is extremely concerning. Women, babies, and families do not have safe care (physically or emotionally) if the midwives are too stretched and stressed.
I think, given this is a UK wide problem so likely to be affecting the Luton and Dunstable hospital too, it would be good to raise this with the trust board to check on the well-being of the maternity staff, and what plans the trust has in place to take care of its staff and to encourage retention.
I know money is limited within the NHS which has an impact on staffing levels but there are some things that have been shown to increase retention and satisfaction among midwives. Reading the reports it is clear that it is not just stretched staffing levels but also a lack of satisfaction in the job, a lack of autonomy and an overmedicalised maternity care system being two of the issues.
I will write to the head of midwifery myself to offer my support and to see what I can do personally, and what my community of doulas and antenatal teachers can do to support staff, whether providing a lunch or a relaxation session once in a while.
I will also be writing to my MP, Nadine Dorries, and the Secretary of Health.
I would be grateful if you could pass my letter on to the Council of Governors and the Chief Executive. I have copied some of the governors into my email.
I look forward to hearing from you that this has been discussed by the appropriate people. The health of Luton and Dunstable starts at the beginning of life. We need our midwives.