A guide to statement writing
As a midwife or maternity support worker (MSW) there are a variety of reasons why you could be asked are asked to write a statement. These include:
- If a woman or her family makes a complaint. An employer must always investigate, and as part of this process, you and other members of staff that may have been involved in their care may be required to write a statement. This will enable your employer to collect information and address any concerns raised by the patient. Every employer should have a policy for managing patient complaints;
- If an untoward incident has occurred;
- As part of a grievance or disciplinary investigation;
- If there is a legal case – this would be a statement for a coroner’s report or court case.
Midwives are required under NMC The Code (2008) to ‘cooperate with internal and external investigations’.
If your Trust/Board has an agreed format for statement writing this should be used.
A statement should include the following information:
- Full name, qualifications (with dates), status, pay band, employer’s address, length of employment at the time of the incident and also at present if this is now different.
- Your involvement, for example (e.g.), midwife responsible for the care, or labour ward co-ordinator.
- State the purpose of this statement writing, e.g.: This statement is prepared at the request of….. I have been made aware that (client’s name/or name of complainant) has made a complaint against the Trust. I write this statement having reviewed the maternity records of…. I also have a personal recollection/or no personal recollection of my involvement in this client’s care.’
- Relevant period of duty, date of the incident and names of staff on duty.
- Relate any exceptional points e.g. ward in process of redecoration, staffing levels, dependency, clinical incident/RCM Unsafe Conditions of Practice form submitted, management was made aware of the high activities and staffing levels.
- A factual narrative of your role in the woman’s care written in consecutive and logical sequence, making it clear which parts are constructed from memory, the client’s records or from evidence or your recollection of standard practices at the time. It should be a factual account of your involvement. Please avoid statements of opinion or personal comments on treatment given by other health professionals.
- No statement should be written entirely from memory. Reference should always be made to the client’s notes.
- Identify other staff involved in the client’s care if possible by their names and status, e.g. Mr John Smith, Consultant Obstetrician, or Mary Jones, midwife, especially if the signatures are illegible.
- Your comments on any allegations concerning your involvement that may have already been made on behalf of the woman.
- Please give details of the conclusion of your involvement in the client’s care, e.g. care was passed to another midwife.
- Also remember that persons who may read your statement may not be familiar with technical midwifery or medical terminology, so you will need to explain clearly any technical or clinical terms using words that a lay person would understand.
- All paragraphs should be numbered and all pages must be numbered including any clearly labelled appendices. Please check for correct spelling and punctuation. It is advisable to type the statement using a font that is easily read using double line spacing.
- Each page should have your signature and date of signing. Sign the last page immediately after the end of your text and not at the bottom of the page. Any alterations should also be signed and dated.
- It isn’t advisable to refuse to make a statement but you can insist on the time to seek professional advice and assistance from your local RCM steward in writing your statement or you may also wish to seek support from your supervisor of midwives.
- You must cooperate with internal and external investigations (NMC The Code 2008). Your statement can be used as factual evidence for internal and external processes including legal cases.
- It is recommended that you only submit your statement when you are satisfied with the contents and you have shared it with your RCM steward.
- It is recommended that if you submit your statement in an electronic format it as a PDF or read only to ensure that a third party cannot amend it. You should also submit a signed paper copy.
- To be completely honest and state if you cannot remember something
- Avoid ambiguity or subjective statements
- Avoid opinion or speculation; state facts only
- Avoid abbreviations or jargon
- Explain why you made the decisions you did or took a particular form of action
- To state the midwifery practice/or clinical guidelines at the time of the incident (this is important as sometimes you will be asked to provide a statement of your involvement in an incident that goes back several years) and to attach the relevant guideline if it is appropriate
- Retain a copy for yourself
- Seek advice from your local RCM steward before submitting your statement
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