Why I’m leaving the RCM and going back to clinical practice

By Hermione Jackson, Digital Midwife, Digital Midwife Advisor Midwifery Public Health England NHS

It only seems like yesterday that I left my role in the hospital as a Digital Midwife to start a secondment at the RCM as a Digital Midwife Advisor. This was a huge career change for me, but one that I felt would support the wider maternity workforce during the transition to utilising digital technology in maternity care.

When the news first emerged about the coronavirus in China, my first instinct was to worry about the health workers in the hospital and how they would cope in the challenging time. Once it became apparent that this was going to affect the whole world, my concern turned to how my colleagues in the NHS would cope.

There was no doubt in my mind that this would be a very challenging time for the whole NHS. While some aspects of healthcare can be scaled back or postponed, like elective operations, maternity is one of the unique areas where there would be no let up in the need for care.

As a Digital Midwife, my job is to find digital solutions to re-design and streamline services to enable midwives to provide that important face-to-face clinical care when its most needed. That work is even more pertinent now, with women and maternity staff needing protection from unnecessary contact. But even with these innovations in place, the reality is that we still need ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure that women receive the best possible care during this difficult time.

When the call came from my previous job, saying that they would like me to return, I didn’t think twice. Of course I would return and support my colleagues, my friends and the women who use that service. That yearning desire that all midwives have inside them to care is so strong. You can express it in different ways, and my role at the RCM was allowing me to care for women in a far more strategic way across the entire UK. But the situation has changed, and I know I am more needed clinically in hospital now as the smiling face that greets women (even if behind a mask or through a computer screen) or that friendly voice over the phone.

Midwives are inherently adaptable, whether to innovations in practice or new technologies. Our core caring skills run through all that we do, and we will adapt as we need to the changing landscape of midwifery.

I am a little scared of what the next few months will hold, as I’m sure my colleagues are too. But the sense of duty and sacrifice is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind as we pull together despite the increased risks we may face.

There is no doubt that this will be a challenging few months for everybody in a caring profession. But I know my colleagues will support me, as I support them. And I also know that the RCM, where I hope to return to once this is all over, will support all of us.