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Maternity staff suffer verbal abuse as homebirths suspended

"Be Kind" - that’s the message from North West Anglia Foundation Trust Maternity services after reports of staff receiving verbal abuse. 
Peterborough city hospital
Peterborough City Hospital Trust reports rise in verbal abuse after homebirth service suspended (Photo: John Baker)

The Trust that manages Peterborough City Hospiital among others announced last week on July 23 that due to staff shortages they have had to temporarily suspend homebirth services. 

Following this announcement parents who were preparing for a homebirth have expressed their frustration and disappointment. 

On behalf of the director of midwifery, Penny Snowden, the Trust apologised for the inconvenience caused due to the decision to suspend the homebirth service and said it “was only made as a very last resort”. 

Adding: “We looked at all other options to enable us to keep the service running, including enlisting the help of independent midwives. We do have several independent midwives working within the service, but even with this additional resource, our staffing remains a challenge.  

“At this current time, our hospitals, and many other maternity services across the East of England, are facing severe staffing shortages due to Covid-19-related absences. This means we have to make incredibly difficult decisions in order to provide a safe service to all the women in our care”. 

The maternity staff have reported an increase in reports of verbal abuse via the maternity helpline.  

Responding to the abuse concerns, the Trust management said: “We are seeing an increased number of incidents where our staff are facing verbal abuse from members of the public via our maternity helpline. This is not acceptable. We expect respectful behaviour both from our staff and towards our staff within the hospital and the community. 

“Our staff are unhappy about this situation as much as you are. They are working hard to continue to provide the best patient care they can. However, if you wish to raise any issues or concerns, please visit our website here”. 

The maternity services added that all women who were or are booked to have a homebirth will be contacted by the Maternity Team. Women who are currently at the stage where they’re discussing their birthing plan with their midwife are still being told about the homebirth service as an option for them.