The nurses strike last week was a historic one. It’s the first time ever that midwives have taken strike action, and it’s all about the 1% pay rise dispute.
Arguably, a worthy thing to strike over given the apparent inconsistencies in regional pay increments for NHS people.
An interesting debate followed on Radio 4 where a midwife detailed how her stretched capacity meant the care she gives suffers, potentially putting patients’ well-being at risk.
In financial services, especially in contact centres, Treating Customers Fairly is a systematic culture. Doing what’s right on every contact with a customer comes first. That means that if calls are queuing, and the boards are red; the service offered is the very best service for the customer you’re speaking to at that time; you don’t rush or act hastily to get to the next call.
A similar situation I’ve noticed is that of paramedics. You call an ambulance, and they stay with you until a full and detailed handover has taken place. Other 999 calls queuing? That’s for the dispatchers to worry about, not the paramedics. Their role is to take care of the patient first – a proven model that works in so many other situations.
I find it so concerning then that midwives rush appointments to meet quotas. It should be said though that I’m not faulting individual midwives – it’s the culture which dictates that it’s their job to worry about their own resource and patient numbers.
As far as I know, a midwife is recruited to be compassionate, to support new or soon-to-be mothers, to be the source of knowledge in uncertain times, and to question when something’s not right.
My understanding is they weren’t recruited for logistics or resource planning. Surely there’s a team that takes care of that…
In a culture of seemingly increasing number of failures in child protection, midwives and nurses alike should feel empowered to take the time on every contact – however long it needs to take. They should feel empowered to sit and chat if a patient is worried, and in the times where something doesn’t feel right, they should have the time to be able to say ‘Hang on, we need to find out what’s going on here’.
The NHS is a wonderful commodity for the UK, groundbreaking in it’s proposition. But being so big, and with little inter-departmental cooperation – the culture differences are a wide and concerning delta. Does patient care suffer then because an embedded lack of proper governance is all too common? I’d be inclined to think so.