Corona Diaries: The Pandemic From a Midwife's Point of View

Aug 1, 2020

Interviews & Inspiration | Lauranne Heres

Corona Diaries: Meet Aminatta, a 45-year-old midwife. She tells us how the pandemic has affected her work and revealed some cracks in the system.

How long have you been a midwife?

I have been a midwife for 10 years. I was a nurse before becoming a midwife, so have been a nurse for over 20 years. I have kept both registrations with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council).

Have you had any special assignments during the pandemic? Has work changed?

My trust had a plan to have dual trained midwives to be ready to work in other areas of the hospital as and when required. I was given an update training into current practices in the hospital to be ready for this plan. I haven’t as yet been asked to work in the hot areas (i.e. Covid 19 positive wards)

Fathers are still allowed in, but they have to wear masks and can only come in for the delivery. So, all pre-natal appointments are mothers only.

How has this pandemic affected your personal life (have you had to isolate from loved ones, did you have to move, have people complained about your job)?

I have isolated from work as I had a family member with Covid-like symptoms. However, this was negative on testing. I have not had to isolate from loved ones but have considered doing so after some shifts. But I decided to come home due to other commitments and responsibilities to my family. I follow strict rules of stripping and sanitising on arrival at home. It’s been difficult, but so far has worked for my home. I have not needed to move or had anyone complain about my work yet. My family do wish I weren’t working within healthcare as they worry that I may contract the virus.

Do you think the government has handled the pandemic well?

This is an ongoing debate. Some NHS trusts felt they were well led and equipped in terms of PPE and guidelines to follow. But the advice changed on a daily basis in my area of work. This was sometimes confusing as whenever you had a day off you would go back to work to find major changes. Such quick and instant changes confused staff and patients at times. Therefore, for us as healthcare workers the government could have done lots more for uniformity in testing, PPE, and tracing. This continues to be the case at present. PPE issues are not so much the case for us, but we are very much monitored in way of usage to avoid waste and this causes risks of us reusing equipment that is meant for one use only.

What do you think about the "clap for the NHS" movement?

It was encouraging at first, but most of my colleagues felt that whilst the nation was clapping, we were constantly at risk from the virus due to PPE issues in the beginning. For that reason, I was no longer encouraged by it as it felt like a facade. Overall, it was a good thing if all other things were in place for healthcare workers. The community pulled together to bring us gifts and make us feel valued several times. But we also had a daily worry of possibly not having any scrubs and other PPE to deliver babies.

If you could change anything to improve your job, what would it be?

My NHS trust has too many management posts. We need more hands clinically. I would improve the management structure. Something that baffles me is the free parking that was made available to staff during the pandemic. This should have been abolished a long time ago! No one goes to hospital for fun. It’s either you work there, or you are a patient. To charge us parking is cruel as we are not even paid well. We also had free dinners during this pandemic. Where were all these privileges before? We worked just as hard before the pandemic. Lots of shifts without breaks. We get dehydrated and a high percentage of healthcare workers have kidney problems because of long shift hours and no breaks. Again, too many managers not managing well and causing young medical issues that can be avoided.

Are you planning a holiday once the pandemic calms down?

I had a s holiday planned for July, but this has to be postponed as I still think it’s too early to be traveling and wasting holiday days on quarantine ones when you arrive at your destination or return.

Since this interview, the government has announced a pay rise for essential workers. However, only doctors were included, which means nurses and other medical care professionals have been left out.