Midwives can't wait to work at Ipswich

NATIONALLY dozens of babies' lives are being put at risk because of a shortage of midwives – but Ipswich Hospital is bucking the trend and actually has a waiting list, it can be revealed today.

NATIONALLY dozens of babies' lives are being put at risk because of a shortage of midwives - but Ipswich Hospital is bucking the trend and actually has a waiting list, it can be revealed today.

A new report, due to be released soon reveals statistics that show almost three quarters of problems occur with babies when there were not enough midwives present to deal with adverse situations.

More than a third of cases involved a poor skill mix of midwives with not enough experienced staff with many on shift being junior or lacking in labour ward experience.

But Ipswich Hospital has a different way of working which has attracted many more people to want to work at the department.


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Mary Head is deputy head of midwifery at Ipswich Hospital. She said that Ipswich does not have a centralised delivery service like many hospitals which means that mothers get to stay in the same place before, during and after having their babies rather than having to move around.

It means that midwives get an all round experience of all aspects of midwifery and mothers get to know the people who will be helping them to deliver their baby.

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It also means that the midwives are constantly updating their skills. There are currently four vacancies at the hospital but Ms Head said they do not anticipate problems filling those and that there is always a good skills mix to avoid problems highlighted in the report.

She said: "Because we have an experienced and established work force we have established people around.

"We don't have the turn over like they have in some other hospitals.

"They have such a turn over of staff that they can never become established and know what is going on."

Ms Head said that being new can be very traumatic and scary particularly if you do not have the support of more experienced people around you.

She said: "Because of our lack of turn over the new ones are always going to be less (in number) than the more experienced staff."

But Ms Head added that they were never complacent and are very conscious of the fact that they need and want to keep their staff.

The national study, discussed on ITV's Tonight With Trevor Macdonald programme, yesterday is the second part of a report by Brenda Ashcroft, a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Salford.

The first part, published in the British Medical Journal last year, caused public outcry when it revealed the extent of staff shortages.

Ms Ashcroft spent a year observing seven labour units in the north west and interviewing staff as part of her PhD.

The Department of Health said it was working hard to recruit more midwives as part of an overall drive to improve maternity services.

n. Are you pleased with the service you have had from the midwives at Ipswich Hospital? Tell us by writing to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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