The biggest issue in nursing and midwifery at the moment is retention of staff. I’m lucky because we have a good, long-lasting team here at Lewisham, but other places aren’t as fortunate. Working in London can be quite a challenge because of how expensive it is, too.
In midwifery, the complexities of the issues we deal with on a daily basis are vastly different to when I first qualified. Nowadays, women are having babies older and are able to have a healthy pregnancy despite underlying health issues. While this is fantastic, it puts more pressure on the services.
I love seeing women and their families have a positive experience and I love seeing how passionate the staff I manage are. Watching them grow into more senior roles makes me feel incredibly proud.
Making a difference despite the pressures
A couple of years ago, I created a team which provides care to women who have had a previous loss, or who have severe mental health problems or learning disabilities. The team has made a real difference.
We had one woman who had a stillbirth in her first pregnancy, so was cared for by this team the second time – and as a result she had such a positive experience. We all got to know her and her family very well, and it was so emotional seeing her happy, healthy baby.
Creating new tools for learning
I think it’s important that staff know their limitations and understand when to escalate something if there are any concerns. Nurses and midwives should all learn about new policies and not be afraid to ask when they don’t know the answer.
Here at Lewisham, we have a ‘theme of the week’ to encourage learning. The theme can be anything from: sepsis and bladder care, to foetal monitoring and bereavement. Recently we took a trolley with biscuits and drinks round the ward, and at the same time, we discussed new bits of policy, familiarised staff with new equipment and had a general chat. It worked really well.
What I think about the NMC
It’s no secret there’s animosity towards the NMC, but I personally find it an invaluable tool. I just want to make sure that the midwifery voice isn’t lost. I have seen some positive changes at the NMC recently – we’ve had midwifery advisors come out to meet us and they’ve fed the things we’ve said back to the NMC. It’s very transparent.
Being able to ask questions of the NMC about a different part of professional practice is invaluable. I’ve seen such a difference this year – there have been a lot of engagement events across the country. I am also looking forward to seeing the new standards for education. I would like more support in developing the national agenda, however.
The data the NMC provides helps enlighten me and have a discussion with my team about how we can improve, what’s working and what’s not. I’d like to have more information about the joiners and leavers on the register, including their age ranges. I’d also like to be kept updated about policy rules and changes.
Collaboration and meeting people is key for the NMC
I think working in collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives, to understand some of the pressure points of services and what they’re experiencing on a daily basis, could help reduce the amount of fitness to practise cases. While it’s great to see NMC changing its approach by trying to ensure some matters are dealt with at a local level, it’s important to link in with other bodies to ensure collaboration.
The public doesn’t understand fully what the NMC does and that’s an issue. To address that and help grow public confidence in the NMC, I think it’s important to clarify roles, responsibilities and purposes. Engage with professions on the register – there’s a huge number of people The NMC can tap into. Get out there, speak to registrants, get them involved in some of the processes.