Leadership in the NHS 

Last year I attended the NHS Frontline Leadership course . I went along with an open mind and a positive attitude.

One of the first things I learnt was that anyone can be a leader . It’s not necessarily the people “at the top” or the ones on the highest salary . It’s not distinguished by the  colour of a persons uniform or their banding or grade. It’s about how they interact with others, their kindness ,smiling faces and their keen work ethic that inspires .  

I have ‘tried’ a senior role in the NHS and to be totally frank it was like a badly fitting suit . It felt uncomfortable it looked wrong and I wanted to have a refund and go back to my previous post . I was told I couldn’t be friends with the staff I managed that I needed to ‘keep a distance’  and ‘sort them out’ . I failed I wasn’t tough enough. 

My main aims were to focus on how the women and families  could be emotionally nourished by high quality care encompassed by compassion. I also wanted staff to give ideas that increased their well being so they felt valued , appreciated and made to feel loved .I don’t want to dwell too much about this experience but realising that  I am rather glad it happened has been remarkable in my own personal development. It has obviously strengthened me and given me courage – it is over ten years ago . 

If someone is kind to others they will spread that kindness and it will visibly shine out . Staff that are valued and listened to feel happier and they give better care to patients . 

When staff are tired , undervalued and worn down they loose energy and find it difficult to challenge so instead they choose the easier option which is to comply fit in and accept the culture they are working in – they just exist . 

The reason why the UK Government must sit up and listen to all NHS workers is that we know exactly what is going on – we see and do lots good things but we also know that when we don’t get our lunch break for a few days in a row, or we leave very late each day we become tired . We are in effect subsidising the NHS when we “keep going” we are not meant to be ‘survivors’ or ‘soldiers’ we are supposed to be caring for others but how can we when we sometimes don’t feel cared for ? 

I have been in the NHS since 1980 so therefore I have seen many changes.  The one virtue that I have kept as a constant is my compassion to others and I want to spread this ideal through social media – kindness truly matters . A woman ringing up the maternity unit in early labour can tell if the person answering the phone is kind . A visitor who is lost and asking for directions in the hospital from a busy porter can sense if that porter is kind . A woman in labour will make better progress if her midwife is kind and she will feel safer. 

So here’s the ‘thing’ I want you to do – when you are next in work look around  , listen out , watch , be aware. Ask yourself ‘Am I kind ? Am I a leader ? Am I complying because I’m tired or through fear ? ‘Who are the leaders I admire ?’ – Then buy yourself a copy of Sheena Byrom and Soo Downes book “ROAR BEHIND THE SILENCE” read digest , makes notes and question yourself – you ALL have the ability to be a leader whether you are a future midwife , a nurse , midwife , junior doctor , a porter , a support worker- whatever your role . 

The NHS needs you but more than that the people IN the NHS need you 

Thank you NHS frontline ,all the amazing midwives and maternity workers I know in reality and through social media – you inspire me . 

I’d like to dedicate  this blog to the late Adam Bojelian – a truly amazing patient leader and also to his mum and dad Zoe and Paul who work hard to make us all think differently about the NHS and leadership 

Thank you for reading – please leave your own comments 

Lots of love 

Jenny 

The Suffragette film and midwifery 

The Suffragette film has so many parellels in my life as a midwife and also as a single mother that I just have to write about it 

As a midwife I see the strength and courage of women on a daily basis – I also see vulnerability , sadness , wisdom and grief . 

These emotions and traits are also part of me and every midwife  and must be recognised and valued 

Until I “found” myself through social media I was almost lost and felt  that  I’d never fit in – through the power of twitter I have found my place and I’ve  gained #courageButter . I have  connected with brilliant inspiring midwives, future midwives, doulas, obstetricians and several others who are not necessarily birth workers but who embrace the fact that birth is part of our psyche . 

We are all born therefore it is crucial that any birth is a positive experience for a woman,  her baby/babies and her family – be that blood family and/or friends . 

A great resource and a global voice for birth is the Positive Birth Movement founded by Milli Hill  @millihill on twitter also look for @birthpositive . Any birth can and should be a positive experience whether it occurs at home , a midwifery led unit , a labour ward or an operating theatre .  I see it as part of my role to make that happen as do many other UK and global midwives and birthworkers  . 

The suffragettes tried peace first and were ignored so then they resorted to different tactics – I wonder how they would have rejoiced to be able to use social media to spread their campaign 

In the film their determination to smash windows and destroy communications within London are portrayed as effortless  and without thought – but I’m sure in their hearts they felt scared and questioned themselves – they had families to support and were expected to show a sort of unwritten compliance to adhere to societies views of what a woman should BE or Do . When they rebelled against this they were shunned by neighbours friends and attacked. 

This leads me to a question”What does society expect of a midwife ?” 

A ‘NICE’ person who chooses to care for women through pregnancy labour , birth and early motherhood ? OR a courageous person who fights for the rights of all women . 

So ask yourselves this “What exactly does the NHS expect of a midwife ” 

To act as an employee , to comply , to conform? Or to question practice regularly to be rebellious for the good of others , to champion women’s causes ? To help each child have the BEST possible start in life by ensuring that each woman gets top quality care and prolonged skin to skin contact at birth (How could i not mention skin to skin as  Jenny The M ?) 

Does the NHS expect us to shout out that there is a shortage of midwives ? Should we declare that in most maternity units midwives are not always having a break ?-that they work extra hours unpaid to provide support to their colleagues and also  that if midwives were mainly men our pay would be better. Taking  a decision to ‘strike’ was not an easy one  for any midwife but it raises awareness of our cause and I am proud that the RCM and Unison supported us all and stand by us 

My advice is not to ask what others expect of you but to look inside your own heart and ask what you expect of yourself 

I’m suggesting you all try to be suffragettes for midwifery – challenge practice , stick with those who encourage you , reflect regularly , embrace change and do the right thing  – the best is yet to come … 

 

  

  

Busy midwives 

This is written for all the midwives out there . I have gathered comments from private messages and discussions on Facebook around what happens to us in times when Maternity Units are short staffed / have an increased workload/the impact of grief or emergency situations/ when Drs are too busy to attend the area 

First of all it’s very important to reasses situations and recognise the women and babies who require high priority care .  

 

Delegate a staff representative to inform the women & families that the unit is busy and give apologies – communication is very important and far better to explain the situation which may resolve,  than to say nothing and leave families floundering and searching for clarity & information . If you envisage a delay be honest about it .Do not ignore people. 

Inform the supervisor of midwives on call and the team leader , if this brings no support escalate yourself – we are all responsible and managers are not mind readers – again communication is the key . Better to avert an incident and keep the momentum of the staff than wait until something goes wrong . 

Try to think strategically . If caring for someone who will need take home medication then start the main body of the electronic discharge to make the Drs load a bit lighter. In doing this you also streamline the woman’s paper  journey through the system . 

NHS staff are legally entitled to their breaks – so make sure you know who has had a break and who has not . If you are a leader you should show staff that you have had a break even if shorter than normal. Staff who feel cared for and valued work more effectively . We should all help one another . 

File each paper record  at each point of contact – I think of this as ‘record housekeeping’ Write each entry into notes as it has happened – this will prevent record keeping errors , contemporaneous records are much more accurate . Try hard to keep midwifery notes at each individuals bedside -not piled up en masse in the office . If every midwife files notes in an organised fashion then the midwife completing the discharge will have less  to do . 

Make the women who are unwell the priority .  Delegate a member of staff to give a several women and families a group   “going home” information chat this will reduce workload and is effective time management skill . 

Ensure all medications are on time – women should be made aware when their treatment is due / times of appointments / scans etc – it’s no good if the only person on the area that knows is busy – true woman centred care means that women know what’s going on and this means times and schedules . 

Some relatives are happy to help their partners / sisters / daughters / friends with a wash and if you explain that as the area is busy it might be useful – some women want a midwife or maternity support worker to help them which is part of our role . 

Utilise and praise your maternity support workers – their role is invaluable they are not there to “make beds” but can perform venepuncture / observations / help with infant feeding support / take urgent samples  to the lab / be the eyes and ears of the area 

Try not to rush / dash / get stressed – you are doing the best you can – keep telling yourselves that – be proud 

Plan a meeting every two hours standing to reassess the situation to ensure that staff have equal workloads  – keep it fair .  

At the end of the shift write down how you all felt and fill out an incident form highlighting key points . Its ok for other staff to say “yesterdays over” they are right but unless reflection and feedback take place which pick out the positive and negatives how will we ever learn  ? 

In times of stress it’s all too easy to get annoyed but I’d like you all to take on Brene Browns advice “Every person is doing their best”  

Finally I’d like to recommend this  to all of you click  HERE  – if you are busy & can’t think straight it will help you to realign yourselves – it’s also very useful for women & partners  who are finding it hard to relax – a “switch off from everything ” a time treat that will improve concentration and promote self worth – thanks to Olvinda Armshaw for recommending it.  It focuses on calm & breathing and refreshes you in the time it takes to boil an egg : ) 

I hope my advice helps you in some small way – you are all amazing – but you are midwives not soldiers – don’t be scared of saying “ENOUGH” – to do so is courageous , valiant and it’s the right thing – speak out , try your best and remember how wonderful you all are 

Be extra specially vigilant for signs of burnout in yourself and others and don’t give yourself a hard time if you feel unwell – seek help & be kind to one another . 

It’s good to thank everyone and have a group hug – positive actions reinforce good feelings 

Thankyou for reading

Jenny  

National Poetry Day 

When i think of all the people  who tweet

I smile to myself as I skip down the street 

They’re  always “there” whenever “there” maybe 

Waiting and responding to a tweet from you or me

Cheering one another up along life’s highway 

With a quote or a saying to brighten our day 

Evidence based practice or new research innovation 

Sharing positivity across all nations 

Or perhaps good news they just wish to share 

Even just a hello to see if someone cares 

Social media is truly social  – connecting others on a level that’s totally global 

So all I’m saying in this short ditty is 

“You don’t have to “fit in” you don’t need to be witty 

Just Join the twitter brigade of positivity 

soon you’ll be skipping down the street just like me 

Follow the ones who are shining out loud

and be a tweeter – join in – you’ll soon feel proud ❤️

@JennyTheM