Flex Appeal is a campaign set up by the glorious Anna Whitehouse AKA Mother Pukka in response to her company not supporting flexible working. I find myself talking to women on a daily basis who are worried about telling their work that they are pregnant and that suck, men certainly don’t have that same problem. Men wouldn’t be worried about going into a job interview and fear that their age, fact they may have recently married or that they are of ‘child-bearing’ age might affect whether or not a company employs them but that is common for women, as for women it is assumed that we are the ones that stay at home, give up work and put our career on hold more often than not. But why should it be this way?? In a word it shouldn’t and we should all have the choice to decide if we want to continue with our careers, if we want to share parenting leave, or if we want to continue working but fit it around family life. So what has this got to do with the Continuity Matters campaign?? Well it’s got EVERYTHING to do with it!! There are so many misconceptions around caseload midwifery and what it is but the research is clear and has been for years. Allowing midwives to manage their own diary, working flexibly around personal life is what is shown to improve midwives wellbeing.
Women deserve caseload care and midwives deserve the option to work this way. Latest figures show that for every 30 midwives trained only 1 is added to the profession, so the 3000 new places for midwifery we were promised means nothing against the 2900 that will leave. Using these stats it means to actually have 3000 extra midwives we would need to train 33,000 extra just to account for those leaving!!!! It’s crazy when there is an answer that so many of us want and that is caseload midwifery. I know midwives who have left or are on the verge of leaving who would jump at the chance to be back working as a midwife in this way.
When I am able to manage my own time it means I can do my admin at a time I feel most productive, sometimes yeh that might be at 8pm at night or it could be at 8am in the morning depending how I’m feeling, it’s up to me and the fact I can do this at a time I’m feeling most productive means I can get more done in less time… hence flexible working improves productivity!!
Being flexible means I can arrange appointments at times that suit everyone. I can go out for dinner, I can go to the theatre, or like I mentioned in my last post, I could go to a gig and dance the night away. I’ve had more of a life in the last month of being on call then I did for most of the year of working inflexibly and yet some days I might work 12 hours, but that’s because it’s what works for me. Someone mentioned on my last post about not being able to drink and yes when I’m on call of course I don’t, but I do still have time off, as we all should… wine is in my fridge and I definitely enjoy a glass or 2 when I’m not on call!!
I have colleagues who have small children who are supported to be able to spend more time with them, who can do the school run, take their little one to ballet, enjoy breakfast with their children without feeling rushed or stressed.
I just wanted to stamp out the idea that being on call means no flexibility or that it is completely not suitable for those with children. Generally these comments come from those who haven’t ever worked this way, because all of the caseload midwives I know that are able to work flexibly and are not micromanaged, are able to provide true woman centred care ad have support of their colleagues LOVE their job and talk about how beneficial it is to them and their life. It seems no matter who it is that writes for the campaign, no matter how much experience they have of living the life of a caseload midwife there is always a mumble of negative comments about ‘it doesn’t work’ ‘it causes burn out’ ‘midwives don’t want to work this way’ etc etc… Now what I find is that most of these comments come from people who have actually never worked this way, or who worked providing continuity in way that DOESN’T actually allow flexibility or self-management or had caseload too high… they are KEY in the success of caseload midwifery!!
So when you think about implementing caseload midwifery, if you don’t have the right amount of midwives, if the caseloads are too high, if the midwives re not protected from being called in to other areas to cover staffing, if they are not working in a supportive team… if any of all of these are true then it is NOT caseload midwifery that has failed, it is the way it has been implemented!!
If it’s not available in your area please please write to your local CCG about this because if there is a demand for a service and it isn’t available they need to justify not providing it. If enough people shout about the need then we can drown out those saying it’s not needed, women don’t want it, midwives don’t want to work this way!!! CONTINUITY MATTERS!!!!!!!
Written by Michala Marling – Caseload Midwife
Please join the campaign for continuity of carer for all women, for the benefit not just of the women but for babies, for families and for the midwives too. You can do so by following the campaign on Facebook sharing the campaign on Twitter @kaylamarls using the hashtag #continuitymatters or you can email your story to share on the blog to firstname.lastname@example.org