03 / 02 / 2009
NHS South Central
Maternity Services at Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust is one of the biggest departments in the country: employing over 300 midwives and delivering around 5,500 babies each year. Besides its hospital facilities the service also has 3 birthing centres spread across the area.
Following a critical report on the service in 2001, coupled with severe recruitment and retention difficulties, a programme of measures has been developed to improve the situation. A key element of this programme has been a focus on professional training and education led by a newly-appointed Practice Development Midwife.
Equality of access to training days, and transparency in the selection process for other courses, are seen as crucial. The Practice Development Midwife has prepared a study leave policy that gives all staff a clear guide to their entitlements, both for midwives and support workers. Every member of staff has an individual learning account. There are 5 statutory training days each year for midwives and 3 for support workers. Besides the mandatory topics, regular study days cover a range of topics from monthly updates on smoking cessation to haemaglobinopathy training and suturing. Courses are also staged away from the main hospital to accommodate staff working in birthing centres and the community. Specific multi-professional study days take place once a month, attended by medical staff as well as midwives.
The presence of the Practice Development Midwife and the study leave policy gives staff confidence in their ability to access training opportunities. The process is underpinned through individual performance reviews. The Practice Development Midwife responds positively to all approaches from staff and is pro-active in liaising with the local WDC and higher education providers to bid for course places and financial support. 11 midwives are currently on part-time degree programmes in subjects such as social policy and public health. The PDM also maintains an up-to-date maternity library of books and journals. All staff who go on courses that last longer than a week are asked to write a report or make a presentation to share their new knowledge with other staff.
In the two years since the new initiatives were put in place at Portsmouth, recruitment and retention has improved to the point where the service is now working at full establishment and with much reduced rates of staff turnover.
For further information please contact Karen Hone, Practice Development Midwife: firstname.lastname@example.org