WORKFORCE: The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has introduced a new type of maternity services staff.

The roles of healthcare assistants and midwifery support workers have “evolved” into maternity assistants to give greater support and a more consistent level of assistance to midwives, the trust said.

Five MSWs and 42 HCAs at the trust have become 47 maternity assistants. They have all received NVQ training to bring them all up to the same levels of competency and will continue to receive regular support to ensure those standards remain.

Senior matron for midwifery and head of maternity Linda Gustard said: “It’s all about focusing on how midwives are supported and allowing them to get on with the things that only they are qualified to do.

She said that the trust had originally introduced the MSW role with the intension of them working out of community midwifery bases, but this had never taken off, resulting in a gradual decline in their numbers to the point where they were too few to cover the necessary shifts to support midwives.

“What we decided to do was train our HCAs to be able to carry out some of the same tasks to create this new position of maternity assistant,” said Ms Gustard. “This means that we now have more staff able to assist midwives in tasks such as breastfeeding support, baby care, postnatal support and discharge.

“A midwife will be confident that whoever is asked to assist will be up to the same standard.”

She added: “There’s a national shortage of midwives so it is essential that we maximise the time available for midwife-specific duties so this really is a big innovation. We’ve developed an efficient to deliver skilled, midwifery-led care without altering the workforce.

“It’s been well received by staff who have chosen their own uniform and they’ve thrived on the responsibility. Our midwives are also happy because time consuming tasks, including admin and clerical work, can now be delegated without trying to find a MSW.”