For July’s celebration of WHO Year of the Midwife Nurse 2020 CMMPH are highlighting collaborative links and research with NHS clinical partners.  In the first blog Visiting Professor Dr Minesh Khashu writes eloquently about the impact of COVID-19 on society and the international research he is leading in conjunction with members of CMMPH. In the second, Dr Rachel Arnold is undertaking research in her local NHS Trust on exploring maternity culture and organisation. The third blog showcases a longstanding clinical partnership between Salisbury Foundation Trust and Bournemouth University.

Working with our clinical partners: Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:

Dr Minesh Khashu: Consultant Neonatologist, Poole NHS Trust & Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University

2020 has brought Covid rather than perfect vision. However, the pandemic does provide us an opportunity to see more clearly and revisit our direction of travel as a human race.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a symptom of the ills of how we live our lives. Many lives have been lost in the most tragic circumstances. It is a wakeup call giving us an opportunity not just to return to normal but to reboot with better hard and software. We have a choice now to live differently and tread a better path individually and collectively.

The first step is recognising that we are part of a very complex living system with responsibility for it. If we mess with one part, it can and will have major ramifications on what may seem to be remote points in space and time. Let’s utilise the current situation to really look at how we got here, and with genuine soul searching seek a change in how we live our lives.

I have always cherished my association with BU and my Visiting Professor role and tried my best to nurture relationships and networks.

Working with our clinical partners: Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Maternity Unit

Dr Rachel Arnold, Post Doctoral Researcher in Maternity Organisation and Culture

As well as having two Clinical Academic Doctorate students based at Dorset County Hospital (DCH), Vanessa Bartholomew and Hazel Tennant, CMMPH is also working with the Head of Midwifery, Dr Jo Hartley and the Research and Innovation Unit to commence a research project exploring how to enhance the wellbeing of maternity staff using an appreciative action research approach. The research team consists of Professor Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor Sue Way, and two Post-Doctoral Research Assistants, Dr Preeti Mahato and Dr Rachel Arnold.

The wellbeing of NHS staff has been in the spotlight through this pandemic as never before. Long before the current pressures, however, several studies highlighted that staff in maternity services are under extreme pressure and this is having a detrimental effect on them both personally and professionally. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression among UK midwives were shown to be double those of midwives in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden (Hunter et al. 2019), with stress, anxiety, depression and burnout the highest among recently qualified midwives (Hunter et al. 2019). Doctors working in obstetrics are also experiencing high levels of stress and burnout. The UK is short of at least 3,500 midwives. It is, therefore, especially concerning that two thirds of the midwives in the study by Hunter et al (2019) were considering leaving the profession and a high proportion of current UK midwives are nearing retirement. There has never been a more important time to understand how to care for and nurture those who work in maternity services.

Examination of the Newborn forum: a clinical partnership between Bournemouth University and Salisbury Foundation Trust

Dr Luisa Cescutti-Butler: Senior Lecturer Midwifery: Bournemouth University

A three monthly Examination of the Newborn (EXON) forum has been running at Salisbury Foundation Trust (SFT) for the last 15 years. The aims of the forum are to support healthcare professionals undertaking newborn examinations, sharing of experiences/case studies, interprofessional working, maintenance of competence, formulate and review internal  processes and peer support for professionals in training. Membership consists of midwives, nurses from the local neonatal unit, a consultant Paediatrician, Children’s physiotherapists and the Newborn Screening Leads. As the lead for the unit known as Examination of the Newborn at Bournemouth University (BU) and one of the link lecturers at SFT, I chair, coordinate and facilitate the forums, usually on different days of the week with varying times to accommodate community and hospital based midwives. Minutes and an agenda are sent out in advance. BU student midwives are welcome to attend when working with their community midwives or on shift at the hospital.