The aim of this guide is to assist all those involved in developing the maternity workforce with advice on the tasks that maternity support workers can and cannot legitimately undertake. It is important that the guide should be read in conjunction with the documents listed in the Reference section, particularly those addressing issues of responsibility, accountability and delegation.
The RCM’s (2010) Position Statement on Maternity Support Workers states that the introduction of support workers: “should be within a clear framework which defines their role, responsibility and arrangements for supervision” (page 1). Too often as the Final Report of the Midwifery 2020 programme (2010) and the Kings Fund (2011) have noted the development of support workers in maternity services, particularly in England, can be ad hoc and inconsistent.
On the 21st July 2011 a workshop was held at the RCM the aim of which was to reach, where possible, a consensus on the tasks and responsibilities appropriate for maternity support workers (MSWs) to undertake and those that are not. Workshop attendees were initially asked to complete a survey that listed 96, general, care of the woman, care of the baby, public health and theatre tasks that MSWs might perform. The survey items were based on a review of the following education programmes along with feedback from the RCM’s internal MSW Group:
All Wales MSW Curriculum.
NHS Education for Scotland’s Maternity Healthcare Support Worker programme.
Northern Ireland level 3 MSW Diploma.
London South Bank MSW Foundation Degree.
Through discussion and consensus building the workshop agreed a set of tasks they felt collectively MSWs could perform. These were then reviewed by the RCM’s internal Maternity Support Worker group.
The RCM recognises that support workers perform tasks holistically, working as part of a team and require a wide range of competences including – communication skills, problem solving, recognising and responding appropriately to emergency situations and demonstrating awareness of equality and diversity issues. The workshop and this guide, however, focus on tasks alone. This is in order to assist the setting of clear and unambiguous role parameters........
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