Midwives free to do their job

Union intervention at John Hunter Hospital brings a welcome delivery.

Midwives at John Hunter Hospital’s delivery suite have finally got a cleaner to assist them with the busy night shift, after successful negotiations initiated by the NSW Nurses’ Association.

Night midwives will no longer be forced to leave their patients and spend up to an hour cleaning the delivery suite whenever a baby is born.

Negotiations with management initiated by the NSWNA branch at the hospital led to a swift resolution of this long-standing problem.

‘Everyone understood that this was a pressing problem due to increasing workloads and the clinical issues for midwives on the night shift.

Our request was a just one and justice was done,’ said clinical midwife specialist, Catherine Whelan, who worked on a submission to management with other NSWNA members.

Management has committed to a cleaner seven days a week, from 11pm till 6am, meaning that midwives are now free to concentrate solely on women and babies in their care.

Nurse Unit Manager, Sue Kuter, thinks the outcome is important as it ‘treats midwives as professionals and not just cleaners’.

‘We can now spend our time more efficiently with the women in the delivery suite and this is always our primary goal,’ she said.

Midwives worked together with the branch to discuss the issue and to organise their submission. While there was some consultation with the Workloads Committee, the final outcome was reached with branch representatives and management.

‘We researched the birth numbers and cleaning staff in five other maternity hospitals and all had a night duty cleaner, even those with significantly fewer births than John Hunter,’ Sue said.

‘We now have a much smoother running of the unit and the clinical services we provide. As a tertiary referral hospital we care for women who are considered “high-risk” so it’s important that our focus is on our role as midwives.

‘The mood is great in the delivery suite – there is a sense of relief and we are all very happy that we were listened to. This has worked out well for all involved.

‘This is a great result for the John Hunter Hospital Branch and management are to be commended for their openness to resolving the issue,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda.

‘Things should now be more manageable without midwives being pushed to the limit,’ Judith said.