On Sunday the 21st of November something great is happening.
Across the country groups of like-minded people are meeting to show their support for our midwives and midwifery services.
It is true that we are seeing a lot of midwives reach out and join our group as they are sadly referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Some have made mistakes – but some haven’t and some, due to what seems to be a symptom of our healthcare services currently are referred vexatiously or just because they could be.
Independant midwives seem to be more prevalent – is this because they reach out to us more – we aren’t so sure – but they are at high risk of referral – many telling us they have just come to accept a referral to the NMC as a regular part of their working independently.
There have been a lot of difficulties in the profession for many years which has been well publicised and many great innovations to try to improve practice. However, the ongoing systemic issues do not seem to be given a strong focus and time and time again we see individuals being blamed for issues that have multiple causative factors some of which are out of the control of the midwife.
NMCWatch: registrant care is in support of the vigils planned to highlight the problems experienced by maternity services across the UK. These problems are due to chronic shortages of midwives. While we see increasing medical and social complexity in pregnancy and birth, the situation has become ever more acute as dedicated midwives leave, resign their registration and retire earlier than they may have intended.
All childbearing women in the UK are cared for by midwives for at least part of their journey through pregnancy and birth. All deserve individualised care, which is even more critical for those whose circumstances require medical intervention. All midwives providing this care deserve to work in an environment which minimises risk, supports speaking up when things go wrong and encourage learning.
The Association of Radical Midwives tells us that misrepresentation in the media of the midwifery profession and their role in birth, have contributed to a lowering of morale. Many continue to work while struggling with exhaustion and burnout which for some can result in issues arising over their Fitness to Practice. Some are referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) against a backdrop of the organisation’s contextual factors which continue to fail to be addressed. Often the midwife is held to account over aspects they had no control over. This does nothing to improve the safety of women and their babies. They have disclosed some worrying statistics:
- 2021 has seen maternity services become critically unsafe for staff and users
- A recent RCM survey of midwives found 60% of staff are thinking of leaving the profession
- For every 30 newly qualified midwives, 29 are leaving
- Black women have a 4 x higher risk and Asian women a 2 x higher risk of dying in pregnancy than white women and are more likely to die during the childbearing year
- Giving birth in the UK, a high-income country, is currently carrying risks that are representative of low-income countries
NMCWatch is a CIC dedicated to the support and care of nurses and midwives. We offer peer support from registrants to registrants. Because we have been there we understand the complex issues associated with going through Fitness to Practice investigations by the NMC and/or work-related issues. We will not tolerate bad practices and will show practitioners where they need to improve, but we equally will not stand by and allow patients to be failed when systemic issues are not addressed and resolved.
We understand the fear of speaking out in the current climate but feel it is essential that we stand by our midwifery colleagues in this important issue.
Join a vigil close to you and show your support – there are 64 sites so far to choose from.