Latest newsletter for midwives

Published on 24 January 2022

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Zoe Hooper is a senior consultant for Healthcare Consulting. Working alongside the London regional maternity team, Zoe is also programme manager for the CapitalMidwife programme.

Here, Zoe talks to us about the programme, how it makes sure midwives feel valued, respected and supported, and the many resources available. She also speaks about how some of the programme’s initiatives are benefiting midwives and families across England.

I feel very lucky to be involved with the CapitalMidwife programme. I’m not a midwife, but I’m a mother to two young children. I had incredible birth experiences thanks to the Grove midwifery team, which is linked to King’s College Hospital in London. So midwifery is very close to my heart! Communications, social justice and organisational development are areas I’m experienced in and passionate about, and the CapitalMidwife programme brings all of these things together.

What is CapitalMidwife?

The London regional maternity team and the regional chief midwife lead the CapitalMidwife programme. It makes sure every midwife in London feels valued, respected, listened to, and has the support they need to reach their full potential. We bring midwives together to celebrate and promote midwifery. We also create innovative products to help midwives progress in their careers and deliver excellent care at all times. It’s based on the successful CapitalNurse programme, but we’ve developed our own direction and rolled out some really exciting, unique pieces of work.

Although CapitalMidwife is designed for London’s midwifery workforce, our work is also having a positive impact on maternity staff who are based elsewhere. Some of our initiatives are being piloted in other parts of England. We know that by supporting staff we’re also having a big impact on the people who use maternity services.

A wide range of products and resources

We’ve created a wide range of products and resources. This includes a midwifery skills passport, which means midwives don’t have to retake mandatory training when they move between trusts. And we’ve formed a group of CapitalMidwife Champions: midwives and students from around London who share good practice and promote CapitalMidwife’s work. We’ve also produced a toolkit to embed kindness and civility into maternity services, and a preceptorship framework to improve and standardise the quality of preceptorship programmes for newly qualified midwives.

Our preceptorship framework is now embedded into 16 of the 18 maternity trusts in London. It makes sure new midwives have the support they need to develop their careers and skills, and that they feel encouraged to stay in the profession. The pandemic has disrupted many student midwives’ education, so having a robust preceptorship programme has become increasingly important. The NHS England National Retention Programme has picked up the CapitalMidwife preceptorship framework idea and is piloting it in South East England. We hope it will be rolled out more widely in due course.

Our CapitalMidwife civility toolkit contains ten evidence-based, easy-to-follow initiatives that can improve civility in the workplace. They’re based on ideas from a series of webinars we ran about ‘growing our culture of kindness’, and the NHS civility and respect toolkit. We’ve also included resources to help organisations implement them. Some of the initiatives include empowering people to become active bystanders, promoting speaking up, and implementing a ‘first name’ and ‘real name’ approach. Our toolkit is receiving national interest, with trusts from around England reaching out for copies of it. National maternity groups are also discussing how they can circulate the toolkit more widely.

Improving equality, diversity and inclusion

A lot of our work focuses on improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and supporting ethnic minority midwives. In 2020, a group of ethnic minority maternity staff, led by Dr Gloria Rowland, published a report called Turning the Tide (TtT). It highlighted the experiences of ethnic minority NHS maternity staff in England during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a grim read but the findings are unsurprising: ethnic minority maternity staff have always faced huge inequalities. The CapitalMidwife programme wants to make sure sure every midwife in London is treated equally, and it’s very clear that ethnic minority staff often don’t get the support they need.

To create EDI products, the CapitalMidwife team listens and facilitates. We have an incredible advisory group, which includes the authors of the TtT report and other ethnic minority maternity leaders, both in London and nationally. They’ve designed and shaped an anti-racism framework, which we’re now piloting across London, and a fellowship for band six and seven ethnic minority midwives that will begin in April.

The anti-racism framework and fellowship

Our anti-racism framework includes nine high-impact anti-racism initiatives that we’re asking maternity services in trusts across London to adopt. If trusts effectively implement these initiatives, they could really transform staff experiences. They range from making sure ethnic minority staff are in leadership roles, to improving continued professional development opportunities and encouraging staff to speak up. As trusts implement the framework we’ll give them awards for making progress. In the next six months we hope to announce our first ‘Bronze’ award winners.

The fellowship will run for six months. It will help around 30 ethnic minority midwives in London develop their leadership skills and create a strong network of peers, coaches, mentors and sponsors who’ll support them throughout their career. If it’s successful we hope to run it again in the future.

Although we’re piloting these two pieces of work in London, we’re working very closely with Wendy Olayiwola, National Maternity Lead for Equality. We hope they could make a difference across England in the longer term.

CapitalMidwife also recognises that maternity support workers make an enormous contribution to maternity services, and we’re planning to support them as part of our programme in the future.

A message from the CapitalMidwife team

Before joining the CapitalMidwife team I already had a huge amount of respect for midwives. Being part of this programme has just reinforced that. I’ve never worked with such a lovely bunch of people: they’re so kind, compassionate, and passionate about what they do.

Right now, the pressure on midwives is intense and it’s a very difficult space to work in. The main message from the CapitalMidwife team to midwives is to look after yourselves as best you can, make choices that feel right for you, and please always remember how deeply appreciated you are. You’re making a very big difference to so many people.

What else can I expect when I read this midwifery newsletter?

You can read our senior midwifery advisers’ new year message and their latest updates on work across the NMC. You’ll also find the latest information about our search for a new Council member for Scotland, Justine Craig’s appointment as the Chief Midwifery Officer for Scotland, our webinar about the standards for student supervision and assessment, and the latest professionals on the New Year Honour’s list.

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