Midwives 'emotionally and physically battered' by coronavirus pandemic

A survey indicates a majority of midwives are thinking of quitting the profession.

Midwives ’emotionally and physically battered’ by coronavirus pandemic iStock
Concerns over staffing levels have been raised by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

Midwives in Scotland have been “emotionally and physically battered” by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been claimed, with a majority considering quitting the profession.

According to a survey of its members by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), one in seven midwives are thinking about leaving due to low staffing levels and frustration with the quality of care they can provide.

And of the 871 midwives who responded to the survey, carried out in December last year, half told the RCM that they rarely have enough staff to provide safe care for women.

The RCM said that it is “deeply concerned” by the results of the survey, as it set out recommendations aimed at addressing the issues raised.

They include a call for more support for midwives early in their career to ensure they feel well supported and positive about their chosen career rather than leaving.

There is also a need to ensure midwives have time to undertake essential education and development which is key to delivering safer and better care, the RCM said.

And the organisation recommended the introduction of an accurate tool to determine midwifery staffing levels.

Jaki Lambert, RCM director for Scotland said that workforce morale is at “rock bottom”

“This shows deep seated and longstanding issues, certainly worsened by the pandemic which midwives fear are already impacting on the quality of care for women and their babies,” Lambert said of the survey results.

“There is a worrying catalogue of issues and discontent with an exhausted and a fragile maternity workforce with rock bottom morale.

“They have also been emotionally and physically battered by the pandemic and left feeling that their work and efforts are not valued. We need to move forward together with the Government from this point.”

Lambert said that the situation is “not sustainable” and is “not acceptable”.

She continued: “There is a real disconnect between what maternity services need and what resources are available to them in terms of funding, professional development, resources, and staffing.

“It is only the incredible determination, skill and sheer willpower of midwives and their colleagues that are holding services up.

“Without action the staff, and the system they are propping up, will break. This is not safe, it’s not sustainable, and it’s not acceptable.”