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Date published

5 December 2018

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How it all started

I was a superb Midwife working in an acute area. We all worked way beyond just to give the best care we could. We had managers telling us not to datix poor staffing as it made us look like we weren’t coping with our jobs! We had staff refusing to help in other areas, refusing to take women who needed special observations or particular medication. I was doing the work of three Midwives most days. So I Datixed unsafe staffing and went off sick for two weeks. When I returned to work the Risk Manger sought me out and called me a Vindictive liar. Then an hour later she came and told me the conversation had never happened and to ‘sweep it under the carpet’! I informed the Head of Midwifery, who did nothing. The next time I was left with an unsafe workload I Datixed every patient who I felt had been given unsafe care by me. I had been left to look after several women who all required 1:1 care, plus a bay of other women. They were all poorly ladies, and ended up with poorly babies too. This time my observations were investigated and I was vindicated. My health had deteriorated with the immense stress and I ended up very ill. I had a year off work and returned in a very part time capacity a year later in an electric wheelchair. The stress of Midwifery in such unsafe situations had triggered an illness in me which was devastating to myself, my husband and our children. I plodded along in my wheelchair for maybe 16 months and then a new manager took over. The first thing she wanted to do was make my protected role a clinical one. Three of us did my job and two if us had been relocated to the position due to ill health, protected under The Equality Act. I’d even been reviewed by Occupational Health and managers regularly to ensure I was coping and fulfilling my duties. I’d reached and excelled all my targets. I pointed out to this manager that she could do what she liked with the job, but she would then need to transfer me to another role. She never acknowledged this formally, waving her hands and advising me to just do what I could manage!!! I contacted HR, who were no help. It turned out that in the Trust I work in HR are there to support the management, not the staff. Even the Chief Exec, Head of Governance and Head of Nursing all held the same view. It was horrifying. Unison were supportive and came to all my meetings as I was not going to let it go. Eventually this manager told me I could never work from home, and then asked a colleague to work from home when she called in sick. I took her for bullying, and she immediately threw a triple disciplinary against me. This aggravation went on for months and months. I was accused of insubordination for suggesting a meeting be postponed! When I provided evidence that I had suggested this as none of the staff were available to attend, the deputy investigating stated that she had grave doubts this should even have gone to a a Disciplinary. I was living in a nightmare.... even after this they took me to another Disciplinary for having the courage to question whether Midwifery supervision had ever protected the public or staff as was intended.

What I did to try to overcome it

Unison involved their a Regional manager and he accompanied me to most of my meetings. He said he couldn’t believe the way they were treating me.

How it made me feel

I felt exhausted, particularly as their poor management had made me ill in the first place. The stress was horrendous.

The outcome

I was not guilty at the Disciplinaries and the Trust has since developed an anti bullying strategy for staff. They have spent a great deal of time interviewing staff and now run resilience workshops and courageous conversation sessions. The managers involved of course are still there and all promoted. I have changed jobs.

Final thoughts

I now live with a hideous chronic illness which hangs over my family. I have good days and bad days. I think I had always had this illness, but the stress of working as a Midwife in the NHS and the way I was treated for protecting my integrity and the welfare of my patients and colleagues exacerbated my illness so now it’s there in my life.

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