Failure to consider maternity affects midwives too

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This open letter was written by student midwife Daisy Owens. 

I feel completely let down by the current situation.

This is an experience no one could prepare for and the handling will never be perfect. I also appreciate that there is no one size fits all approach to this pandemic.

I am in my second year at university. As a cohort we are beginning to understand our new way of working with some adapting better than others.

As a profession and course, we are guided by the standards of registration from the NMC. Considering we pay over £9000 a year to become the future workforce of the NHS, I feel we have become lost in a system of expectations created at a time when life was simpler.

We will spend most of this academic year exposed to women, relying in good faith on them complying with guidelines. We are, barely, protected by masks, aprons and gloves but we are still within proximity of others most of the time. We pay to put ourselves and our families at potential
risk. We are at risk of abuse from patients who cannot understand why a student can be present at antenatal appointments but their partners can’t be. We are not able to cancel maternity. We are not able to have video/ online appointments.

There is always a possibility of needing to isolate or shield, yet we are absolutely governed by an uncompromising hours requirement. It's very disheartening to be made to feel like 'meet the hours or you don't qualify'.

We pay to be here, we are not paid to work full time, but we don't get to graduate with our cohort if we need an extension for hours.

There will always be circumstances where people need time off and it is a responsibility to make the hours up. However, this is an extreme circumstance. Considering this is now a self-funded programme we should be able to have a level of control.

Currently a proportion of students with additional family commitments are finding it difficult to cope with academic studies occurring alongside placement. I appreciate the difficulties that must have occurred in organising our timetable this year, but people are struggling. Again, it feels the attitude towards us is 'this is how it is'. We are at risk of burnout before we have even begun our careers.

I want to be here. I want to work as a midwife. I make sacrifices of time with my family and friends because I really want this.

Please, please, hold this government to account for their treatment of student midwives, nurses and doctors of the forgotten generation! We need a voice to stand for us. We need more than £5000 a year. I will leave university with £70,000 of debt that will take 102 years to pay off, before interest is even added. I probably cost more in admin than I will ever pay back. Please ask Boris, once again, to remove this looming debt that will never be returned.

Keep Our NHS Public has campaigned for NHS staff, to reduce outsourcing, relieve students of their debt burden, tackle the staffing crisis and ensure safe conditions for all people working in the health service. You can find out more on the Support NHS staff campaign page

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