Sheffield Teaching Hospital share innovative work on MSW apprenticeships

on 28 June 2019 RCM Branches MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Apprenticeships

Ali Salmon, Midwifery Clinical Educator at Sheffield Teaching Hospital shares the innovative work they are doing with regards to MSW apprenticeships.

Aim: To safeguard a sustainable maternity workforce by upskilling and developing a new workforce of maternity support workers (MSW) utilising the apprenticeship framework delivered within a partnership model with a local Higher Education Institution (HEI).

Background: Our local BirthRate plus analysis enabled us to increase our staffing levels but also revealed that we required a MSW workforce of 15% to complement our midwifery staffing. We currently only had band 2 support workers with varying degrees of experience, knowledge and education. MSW development is a key priority area being driven nationally (RCM 2018; HEE 2019) and the apprenticeship scheme is recognised as a viable route for the upskilling and education of MSWs (HEE 2018).

Implementation: We worked with our trust apprenticeship leads and local HEI apprenticeship link to examine and map out the pathway for maternity support workers and their role within the maternity unit. Our approach utilises the City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support qualification and the Skills for Health apprenticeship standard specific to MSWs this provides a robust teaching and assessment framework for the apprentices.

The delivery of the apprenticeship programme was awarded to a local HEI following a successful tender process.
11 trainee apprentices were recruited from internal and external applicants and the course started in April 2019. The programme consists of core subject areas and optional units specific to the MSW role. In partnership with our HEI lead we have developed the programme to be co-delivered in terms of teaching and assessing. To deliver this we have used LMS money to fund additional hours within our midwifery education team plus the apprenticeship levy also returns income to the directorate. Trainees have protected time to attend college once a week and undertake both practical and written assignments. The programme also ensures the apprentices have the right personal attributes to deliver compassionate family focused care. Progress of the trainees is closely observed over the 18 month programme.

The journey has challenged many assumptions around the role of midwives versus non-registrants and we have had to manage staff attitudes in accepting that a skilled MSW workforce is essential to maintaining quality woman centred care.
The presentation will aim to equip attendees with a 'how to' guide and a framework to be able to start conversations locally, understand how an apprenticeship model can provide a workable solution to upskilling support workers and empower attendees to start their own journey. It is expected that qualitative and some quantitative data in terms of outputs from the programme will also be presented.

Health Education England (2019) Maternity Workforce Strategy Transforming the Maternity Workforce. NHS England. London

HEE (2018) Maternity Support Worker, Competency, Education and Career Development Framework. NHS England. London

Royal College Midwives (2017) The roles and responsibilities of MSWs. RCM. London