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With the safety of the maternity service in the UK under serious threat, with risk of the service spiralling out of control, all eyes are on NHS trusts to demonstrate improvements whilst ensuring the total wellbeing of both staff and patients.

In annual CQC healthcare report, it was discovered that 41% of maternity practices are rated as inadequate or requires improvement. What’s worse, an RCM survey found that 8 out of 10 midwives believe that there are too few staff to operate a safe service.

Mitigating the risks in the maternity service is not just about reducing claims. There is a much bigger picture- improving the overall quality of care given and ensuring patient safety. This is made infinitely harder while the number of midwives declines every year, which is why understanding how to retain staff and promote a culture of learning and sharing, is essential. 

What are the risks associated with staff shortage?

As part of the ‘Maternity Incentive Scheme’ which promotes safer maternity care, demonstrating effective system workforce planning is not only advisable, but entirely necessary for the safety of both a mother and child.

When there is not enough staff on a shift, the rapid response time on providing patients with urgent medical attention decreases; there has been dozens of cases when the lack of cover due to staff shortage has led to the deterioration of both the mother and baby’s health.

What’s more, it becomes much harder to implement a robust system for the handover of care during shifts when the workforce is overworked and scarce. Having inefficient handovers where information is withheld is not only is a danger for your patient, but for your staff too; if something was to go wrong, they could be held accountable.

Risk management is about learning and understanding the key takeaways from undesired outcomes. Losing valuable staff members and knowledge within a trust can be hugely detrimental. Additionally, it is vital to have medical providers with various levels of seniority and experience every shift so that valuable lessons can be passed on. If less experienced staff don’t have the opportunity to build on their knowledge and learn new skills, training will be less effective. Adopting culture of learning and collaboration is imperative.


Why are staff unhappy?

With morale at rock-bottom and 71% of staff having considered leaving the profession, there is clear evidence that the workforce has become demotivated. Many staff are still experiencing burnout, even now in the aftershocks of the pandemic. Below are just a handful an example as to the causes of dissatisfaction…

  • Staff are stuck ‘fire-fighting issues’ rather than taking preventative actions
  • Poor working relationships with colleagues and seniority reduce collaboration
  • There is a clear ‘blame culture’ when mistakes are made causing anxiety and intense pressure


The benefits of digitized maternity service to reduce risk…

What is a QMS?

A quality management system (QMS) is a comprehensive digital system enabling total visibility of your organisation whilst creating a culture of health, safety and quality.

Here are just 5 benefits of implementing a QMS within the maternity sector:

  • Potential hazards and incidences can be quickly logged using a reporting system, accessible via an app both online and offline. Ensuring that issues are visible, and awareness is raised means the workforce can adapt their working style to prevent further risk.
  • Corrective and preventative actions are streamlined allowing total visibility for future learning. Now, if an experienced staff member was to leave, the knowledge is retained rather than taken with them on their departure.
  • The training and competence capabilities are powerful. With easy access to staff training records and competence matrices, departmental managers can schedule their staff and be certain there are all the necessary skills and expertise on each shift.
  • With compliance achieved in line with ISO 9001:2015, the system creates a single source of truth and trending analysis in order to promptly identify and prioritise threats.
  • Internal and external audits are critical for improving the quality of care. With the Q-Pulse audit module via the app, users save 40% of time in approaching and completing an audit in comparison to paper-based processes.

Next steps

Start the process of improving your quality and safety today.

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Written by

Bethan Foston

As Content Marketing Executive at Ideagen, Bethan’s focus is to provide up-to-date and informative content to help organisations improve their Quality, Health and Safety strategies. Bethan is passionate about helping businesses put their employees mental and physical wellbeing at the forefront which, in turn, creates a positive working culture with increased productivity