Harrogate Hospital promises to protect its midwives

L-R: Head Of Midwifery at Harrogate and District Foundation Trust Sara Keogh, RCM Learning Representative Jessica Lowe, and Chief Executive of HDFT, Ros Tolcher
L-R: Head Of Midwifery at Harrogate and District Foundation Trust Sara Keogh, RCM Learning Representative Jessica Lowe, and Chief Executive of HDFT, Ros Tolcher
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Midwives at Harrogate Hospital have been promised a 'compassionate and positive' working environment thanks to a national campaign to protect NHS maternity staff.

Harrogate and District Foundation Trust have become the latest trust in the North of England to sign The Royal College of Midwives (RCM’s) Caring for You charter.

The charter is one of the cornerstones of the RCMs Caring for You campaign, which aims to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of midwives so they can continue providing the highest levels of maternity care for women and their families.

Head of Midwifery at Harrogate and District Foundation Trust, Sara Keogh, said; I was delighted to sign the Caring for You charter with our workplace representative Jessica Clarke, at RCMs annual conference last week.

We have already started some preliminary work prior to signing the charter, including a maternity staff stress survey to enable us to identify the key issues and stresses affecting staff in our unit.

“Next steps include Jessica asking members for their opinions and ideas as to how we can improve working conditions and reduce stress levels, and for us to work together to create a realistic and achievable action plan.

"We plan to repeat the stress survey once we have implemented any actions or interventions, and are optimistic that we will see an improvement in results and most importantly, a happier midwifery workforce.”

Launched in June, the campaign is asking NHS organisations across the UK to sign the charter and commit to five key principles:

1 .Work in partnership with the RCM Health and Safety Representative to develop an action of issues that are important to the maternity workforce and maternity service users.

2. Ensure that midwives and maternity support workers have access to a variety of shift patterns and promote a positive workplace culture around working time including taking breaks.

3. Foster a positive working environment for all by signing up to the RCM/RCOG statement of commitment calling for zero tolerance policy on undermining and bullying behaviours.

4. Enable midwives and maternity support workers to access occupational health and other organisational policies for their mental and physical health, safety and wellbeing.

5. Nurture a compassionate and supportive workplace that cares for midwives and maternity support workers so that they can care for women and their families.

The RCM recently conducted a survey of RCM members from across the UK revealing that many midwives and maternity staff feel burnt out and overworked.

RCM Regional Officer for the North of England, Susana Cafferty, said: "We know that this is happening due to the increase in demands being placed on them at work. The shortage of midwives particularly in England means our members are working harder than ever before and without adequate breaks, all this can have a significant effect on their health."