Trust celebrates midwifery retention success

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Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust is celebrating one of its lowest ever vacancy rates among midwives, thanks to the success of its recruitment and retention programme funded by NHS England.

Nationally, there is a high rate of midwife vacancies due to multiple factors including burnout and lack of colleague support. The vacancy rate in Sherwood Forest Hospitals’ midwifery team is incredibly low at 0.9%, with all newly-qualified midwives recruited to the Trust since February 2022 still working there two years on.

The Trust says this achievement is largely down to the support it provides to newly qualified midwives in their first 18-24 months – known as their preceptorship.

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Midwife Sharon Parker, who was appointed the Trust’s Lead Midwife for Recruitment and Retention in early 2022, has supported 48 midwives, 28 of whom have completed their preceptorships to become Band 6 midwives and 20 who are working towards the end of their preceptorship programme.

Sharon Parker (left) and Maisie Seamen (right)Sharon Parker (left) and Maisie Seamen (right)
Sharon Parker (left) and Maisie Seamen (right)

The Trust, which marked International Day of the Midwife on Sunday 5 May, employs 180 midwives who provide care for over 3,500 families each year.

Before this role was introduced, newly-qualified midwives at the Trust had no single, dedicated person to go to for support. Lead Midwife for Recruitment and Retention form an integral part of the NHS Long Term Future Workforce plan.

Sharon provides support to midwives on a range of topics, from clinical care and compliance to personal wellbeing. The support is specifically designed to meet the needs of each individual midwife as they rotate around various parts of the Maternity service.

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Each midwife will have an appraisal every month for the first three months with a further review after six months and one year. Midwives on the programme are allocated protected time to meet with Sharon to reflect and learn. This time can also be used to debrief or look back on any challenging situations that may have happened. Sharon also looks after their wellbeing, ensuring midwives are aware of and know how to access the wide range of wellbeing support the Trust offers.

Sharon said: “We are always looking for ways in which we can help develop our newly-qualified midwives and find them opportunities where they can really develop and grow. I’m so passionate about the role and ensuring everyone feels supported and knows they’ve got someone they can trust and come to with anything.”

One of the midwives who has been supported by Sharon is Maisie Seaman, who joined the Trust in 2021 as a newly-qualified midwife and completed her preceptorship in 2023.

Maisie said: “That early support is so important. I had already trained here but it is a big leap from a student to a preceptor and then again to a band 6. Having someone to specialise in supporting and helping with that is really important. I found it really useful having that one person who I could directly go to with anything I needed. I think it’s a vital role.”

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Sharon is also a midwifery ambassador for NHS England. She works closely with local schools, colleges, and universities to promote midwifery as a profession and roles available within the Trust. There are currently 46 student midwives at the Trust who Sharon supports, and two midwives set to start their preceptorship programme.

Thanks to the success in midwifery, the Trust is looking at what it can do to increase retention rates in other areas of maternity and across the wider organisation.

If you’re interested in joining TeamSFH, check out the current job vacancies at www.sfh-tr.nhs.uk/work-for-us/our-vacancies/.