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Self-Reported Experiences of Midwives Working in the UK across Three Phases during COVID-19: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Susan McGrory, Ruth D. Neill , Patricia Gillen, Paula McFadden, Jill Manthorpe, Jermaine Ravalier, John Mallett, Heike Schroder, Denise Currie, John Moriarty, Patricia Nicholl, Patricia Nicholl

Original languageEnglish
Article number13000
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number20
DOIs
Published11 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This study is funded by the HSC R&D Division of the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland (COVID Rapid Response Funding Scheme COM/5603/20), the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, and funding from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce-PR-PRU-1217-21002. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.

King's Authors

Abstract

Maternity services cannot be postponed due to the nature of this service, however, the pandemic resulted in wide-ranging and significant changes to working practices and services. This paper aims to describe UK midwives’ experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study forms part of a larger multiple phase research project using a cross-sectional design based on an
online survey. The online survey used validated psychometric tools to measure work-related quality of life, wellbeing, coping, and burnout as well as open-ended questions to further understand the experiences of staff working during the pandemic. This paper reports the qualitative data collected from the open-ended questions. The qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis and the four
main themes that emerged were ‘relentless stress/pressure’, ‘reconfiguration of services’, ‘protection of self and others’, and ‘workforce challenges’. The key conclusions were that midwives experienced a reduction in quality of working life and significant stress throughout the pandemic due to a range of factors including staffing shortages, restrictions placed on women’s partners, changes to services
and management support, all of which compounded workforce pressures that existed prior to the pandemic. This research recommends consultation of front-line midwives in relation to possible changes in practice and workforce planning in preparation for crises such as a pandemic and to ensure equitable and supportive management with access to practical and psychological support.

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