Before becoming a midwife I had worked for a big telecoms company. They liked to consider themselves “customer focused” – after all it was the customers that they overcharged for calls to Croatia so they had to be nice to them. With this background in mind, I was a little surprised when I started working on a postnatal ward and looked to the more senior midwives as role models.
I would dash around to all the women I was looking after (and when I started I was generally given a lighter share) and confidently estimate when I would discharge them. When (not if – always when) my predictions proved to be wildly inaccurate I would individually grovel and apologise to each family for the delay. Which in itself caused greater delay.
By contrast Julia, a lovely, sympathetic, kind and experienced midwife, would make no promises and when disgruntled partners sought her out to ask when they would be discharged, she would say, nicely but still firmly, “I will come to you when I can”. Which for the most part they accepted.
Meanwhile I was rushing back to couple number one, fighting my way through their curtains to say, “I’m so sorry, I don’t think I will be able to do your discharge before noon because there is a new woman I’ve just got to see, and umm….[at this point I have to pause as I realise mentioning that someone else on the ward had a social worker visiting them that I had to liaise with is a massive confidentiality betrayal – also the woman in the bed next door probably didn’t want me to mention her terribly sore nipples] …..other stuff”. They look suitably unimpressed but resigned.
Needless to say Julia got people out of the door with much greater speed than myself.
I am always very grateful to the public that their love for the NHS seeps into them so much that, for the most part, they accept that a hospital is not like Sainsburys. We can’t just open up another till and speed things up. It’s more like visiting a farmer to get your shopping and in the middle of a transaction if they suddenly say, “I’m sorry I have to go because a fox has just got into the chickens,” ― you would accept it.
Julia was acting like a farmer, I was acting like a woman on a till in a supermarket. Guess who got more respect and trust…
[Photo credit: Christin Hume on Unsplash]