The Scottish Government owes midwives at least some form of acknowledgement of their struggles

The response from the Scottish Government to midwives suffering from staff shortages would be laughable if the situation were not so upsetting and dangerous.

Midwives are feeling 'forced' to sell their annual leave as they worry about the safety of care they are providing pregnant women in Scotland due to staff shortages.
Midwives are feeling 'forced' to sell their annual leave as they worry about the safety of care they are providing pregnant women in Scotland due to staff shortages.

“It is easier than ever to become a midwife in Scotland,” were the first words of response from the Scottish Government after midwives shared their heart-breaking accounts of struggling to cope with staff shortages.

The response to the question – what is being done to resolve the midwifery staff shortage in NHS Scotland and ensure patient care is safe? – went on to highlight the £10,000 bursary for Scottish midwifery students is the highest in the UK and those with healthcare backgrounds can access our fast-track scheme.

If I were to take the Scottish Government's word for it, it sounds as if midwives in Scotland are sitting on clouds of money with not a care in the world.

Hannah Brown (Photo: Laura Tiliman).

Sadly, this is far from the truth.

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Despite the number of midwives in Scotland rising slightly this year, midwives told me this is “nowhere near” the demand levels for the service and they are “incredibly concerned” about the safety of care they are providing pregnant women.

One midwife said she was driven to suicidal thoughts due to shortages as she felt completely weighed down by the inability to provide safe care for her patients under the current system.

While the government response angered all the midwives I spoke to, the main concern was being made to feel like their accounts were “made up”.

“It’s like being gaslit on an industrial scale”, one midwife said.

It is concerning a term often used to describe an abuser – gaslighter – is being applied to our government and one which, under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, has established the Women’s Health Plan – the first of its kind, which looks to improve health and reduce inequalities for women in Scotland.

However, when you look at how we are supporting a profession mainly dominated by women and for women, you cannot help but think this plan is just warm words whilst those with real life experiences suffer.

The upsetting thing is midwives are not even asking for action yet. They just want an acknowledgement from the Scottish Government that what they are going through is happening.

Surely, they are deserving of at least that?

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