Half of midwives do not feel safe carrying out home visits amid concerns around inadequate personal protective equipment, a Royal College of Midwives survey published today has revealed.
The survey of 942 midwives, carried out between 21 and 28 April, found almost all (99%) of those who felt unsafe said they feared exposure to Covid-19 during home visits while nearly half (46%) said they were scared because of a lack of PPE.
The poll also revealed that under a third (28%) of midwives and maternity support workers who reported Covid-19 symptoms have been tested. Of those offered a test, a fifth (22%) had to travel over ten miles from their home to take it.
RCM chief executive Gill Walton said that the lack of PPE was ‘simply not good enough’, also adding that midwives need to be tested ‘at a much quicker rate’ to reduce staff shortages.
‘The lack of appropriate PPE has been well-documented during this crisis and it is having a significant impact on our members’ ability to carry out home visits safely,’ she said.
On testing, she added: ‘Even before the pandemic, maternity services were struggling with staff shortages. Now around a fifth of midwife roles are unstaffed which understandably impacts on service provision, including home births and antenatal and postnatal appointments.’
The results come after the Nursing and Midwifery Council said this month that it will ‘consider context’ if nurses, midwives and nursing associates refuse to work because of a lack of personal protective equipment.
Earlier this month, a Royal College of Nursing survey revealed half of nursing staff in ‘high-risk environments’ have been asked to care for patients without adequate personal protective equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Government announced plans to boost access to personal protective equipment, ramp up testing and recruit more staff in care homes this month.