Community midwives spend the equivalent of two days a week on administration and travel, research for NHS managers shows.
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A team from the NHS Confederation’s foundation trust network looked at the working day of staff at 13 trusts and found practitioners spend 40 per cent of their time on administration and travel - nearly as long as they spend on antenatal and postnatal care. Over a year community midwives spent 45 per cent of their working day, on average, on pre- and post-birth care and 5 per cent on births.
The research, part of work to set benchmarks to compare efficiency between trusts, said there was a conflict for some trusts between more “streamlined schedules” for community midwives and patient satisfaction. It said trusts were working to improve IT systems to reduce administration time and some were considering using GPS route planning to cut travel times.
Royal College of Midwives deputy general secretary Louise Silverton told Nursing Times: “It can be hard to schedule appointments in the community [if] someone rings you to say they are ready to start breastfeeding in half an hour and you are at the other end of your patch.”
The data was collected from April 2007 to April 2008. Another finding was the much smaller number of support workers aiding community midwives compared with their colleagues in hospitals. Three of the 13 trusts in the research had no support workers for community midwives at all.
The research also found antenatal appointments were lowest among ethnic minorities.