Evidence suggests that staff involved in serious incidents can suffer effects on mood, health and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requiring therapeutic intervention. Cases referred to NHS Resolution under the Early Notification scheme fit into this serious incident category. NHS Resolution recognises how distressing it can be for staff to be involved in such incidents and are acutely conscious that the stress may be a result not only of their involvement in the direct incident but also subsequent investigation processes. Provision of effective support for staff is imperative not only for an individual health professional’s well-being and ability to provide safe, empathic care but also for the state of the national maternity workforce. Midwifery and obstetrics both have high rates of attrition and we know from studies that a lack of support plays a part in the erosion of this essential workforce.
Early Notification team provides a professional advice service. This is free and the team are able to provide telephone or email support for legal and clinical staff, particularly on issues relating to investigative practices and legal process. The team includes a mix of legal, midwifery and obstetric experience.
In addition the team has made links with the Professional Midwifery Advocates (PMA) and Supporting Doctors group at the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in order to signpost staff where more pastoral and potentially professional support is needed.
Below is a list of supportive services provided by professional organisations as well as those available to the public in general.
- The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is able to provide support to members on a wide range of issues including employment, professional regulation, whistleblowing, clinical negligence, harassment and bullying. This is largely provided through elected workplace representatives with the support of full time regional and national officers. Details of workplace representatives can be obtained by contacting the RCM on: 0300 303 0444.
- The RCOG provides a supporting doctors peer-to-peer support service for members and trainees. Further information on the support available can be accessed at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/careers-training/workplace-workforce-issues/supporting-our-doctors/support-members-trainees/ this includes a link to submit an enquiry form logging a request for support in addition to details on Workplace Behaviour Champions in your own or a neighbouring region.
- The British Medical Association (BMA) offer free counselling and peer-support services to doctors regardless of whether you are a member or not. Details of how to access these services can be found at https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/work-life-support/your-wellbeing/bma-counselling-and-doctor-advisor-service
- Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members can access free confidential support and assistance to help deal with challenging, emotional issues whether work related or personal via a range of services including a counselling service. To seek advice or make an appointment, members can call the RCN on 0345 772 6100 (or +44 207 647 3456 if calling from overseas) between 8.30am and 8.30pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Practical employment advice is also available on the ‘Get help’ section of the RCN website.
- Medical indemnity organisations, including the Medical Protection Society and Medical Defence Union, all provide some form of advice or supportive services for members in addition to representation and advice on statement writing with contact details available through their respective websites.
- The NHS provides free public access to psychological therapy on a regional basis through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service. This can be accessed by the following link and services in your area located including self-referral details – https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Psychological-therapy-(NHS-IAPT)/LocationSearch/396
- Samaritans provide free 24 hour listening and advice service 365 days a year. They can be contacted from any phone anytime by calling 116 123 from the UK and Republic of Ireland
Should staff involved in maternity incidents have questions or would just like someone to talk to, the early notification team are available via email on ENTeam@resolution.nhs.uk or telephone on 0207 811 6263, during office hours, Monday to Friday.
A request from us
We would welcome your feedback on how we can develop our support offer. Please let us know:
- What support services would your staff find beneficial and access?
- Are employer led psychological services or peer support already available at your trust and utilised?
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