Employment Issues e.g pay, sickness, bullying, preceptorship
First obtain advice from your local union official and ensure you obtain and read the relevant Trust policy. If you are not getting appropriate support from your local union official, request the Regional Officer’s involvement.
If clinical practice is the issue, obtain advice and support from your Supervisor of Midwives. You are entitled to change your Supervisor if you do not get adequate support.
If there is anything untoward in your day that you feel may be investigated, write up notes when you get home and sign and date them, add to it later if you remember other details. This is an excellent resource and will help you remember the incident very much better. Timings, conversations, witnesses are all important
Please ring our helpline on 07971423351 to be put in touch with a midwife who has either been through an investigation personally or who has provided support to those who have been through an investigation
The following websites may also be useful
www.gov.uk/browse/employing-people Government Services and information, Employing people
www.gov.uk/browse/working Government Services and information, Working Jobs and Pensions
http://www.nmc-uk.org/ Nursing and Midwifery Council
http://www.lsamoforumuk.scot.nhs.uk/ Local Supervising Authority Midwifery Officers Forum
www.nhsemployers.org/payandcontracts/agendaforchange/pages/afc-homepage.aspx NHS Employers, Agenda for Change
http://www.acas.org.uk/ ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
Are you aware that there are a number of unions you can join as a midwife? Most midwives become members of the Royal College of Midwives without considering the alternatives. Some midwives are members of the RCN, another royal college also acting as a union. There are some TUC affiliated trade unions representing NHS staff, including midwives, such as Unison and Unite.
www.rcm.org.uk/college/support-at-work/workplace-advice/ Royal College of Midwives
www.rcn.org.uk/support Royal College of Nurses
Print relevant policies whether clinical or human resource – often they do not say what people think they say or are not properly followed. HR policies give timescales for what you can expect to happen and how and this is important to know.
Investigations into adverse incidents
Adverse incidents may involve you directly or indirectly. Remember the investigation does not necessarily indicate concerns about your practice. Investigations can be a good way of understanding why something has happened and identifying what may be put in place to prevent recurrence.
Keep a record of all that happens in the process with dates and times, including notes on phone conversations, mobile phone texts and copies of emails
If you are working within the NHS there is likely to be a management investigation by your employer and/or a supervisory investigation by a Supervisor of Midwives. The investigating supervisor and the investigating manager should not have been involved in the incident which has triggered the investigation. IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) has produced an excellent document ‘Guidance for a midwife in the event of a serious incident’ which can viewed at http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/files/im_uk_guidance_for_midwives.doc Much of the information is also applicable to management investigations, but you should also obtain your specific Trust Policies relating to investigations and discuss them with your Union or other representative.
The supervisory investigation should be independent from any management investigation, so that a midwife is not investigated by a Supervisor of Midwives (SoM) from her Trust.
Your supporting supervisor should be open, impartial, fair and just. The supporting supervisor should not be part of the investigation but should be there to advise and support.
Always take a union representative or colleague with you to any discussion or meeting. It is vital that you feel trust in your union representative at a time when you may be very vulnerable. (There is a direct parallel with the midwife –mother relationship). If you are unhappy with the service you receive, feed this information back to a senior level in the union, and ask for other representation. If this is not forthcoming, consider getting support elsewhere. Ask around to find who has acted as a representative for other midwives in a similar position or ring the ARM helpline. Quality of support is vital and some midwives have found their union representatives too closely aligned with management.
If you are asked to write a statement, use advice that is available such as the RCM guidance on Statement Writing http://www.rcm.org.uk/college/support-at-work/workplace-advice/statement-writing/ There is also a useful section in Bridgit Dimond’s book, “Legal aspects of Midwifery”: Dimond B (2006). Record keeping, statements and report writing. In: Dimond B. Legal aspects of midwifery. 3rd ed. Oxford: Books for Midwives: 238-57.
When writing a statement ensure you have support from your Supervisor of Midwives or other person whom you trust.
The following organisations’ links may be useful
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) http://www.acas.org.uk/
CAUSE (UK) Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions & Exclusions in the NHS http://www.suspension-nhs.org/
If there is any mention of a dismissal or referral to NMC, a Regional Officer should be insisted upon.
Whilst the RCM and other unions do have legal advice available, it may be worthwhile paying for a consultation with a lawyer with an employment background to establish the legality of a case if things look serious. If you are going to take a lawyer along to a meeting, the policies say you can bring along another person as long as you inform the chair of the meeting that you are bringing another person ( you do not have to say who they are).
It is tragically common that the process of investigation produces a level of stress which results in illness. In these circumstances it is important to remember that occupational health services are there to help the employee and can be very helpful and supportive.
Please ring our helpline on 07971423351 to be put in touch with a midwife who has either been through an investigation personally or who has provided support to those who have been through an investigation.