Addressing the workplace needs of Western Australian midwives: A Delphi study
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Objective: To determine the workplace needs of Western Australian midwives working in public metropolitan secondary hospitals. Method: Using a three-round Delphi approach, Round 1 incorporated focus groups and a questionnaire. Fifteen focus groups were conducted with midwives also having the option of contributing through an open-ended questionnaire. During Round 2, 38 items reflecting seven themes were prioritised with a final ranking performed in Round 3. In total, 114 midwives participated in Round 1, 72 in Round 2 and 89 in Round 3. Results: During Round 1, workplace needs identified as being met included: working across all areas of midwifery; ability to work in areas of interest; opportunity to work with low to moderate risk women; supportive colleagues; accessible parking; hospital close to home and friendly work atmosphere. Round 2 items revealed the five top unmet needs as: adequate midwifery staff coverage; access to maintained equipment; competitive pay scales; patient safety issues and opportunities to implement midwifery models. The top ranked needs from Round 3 included: recognising the unpredictable nature of midwifery services; provision of competent medical coverage, and adequate midwifery staff coverage. Conclusions: Demand for maternity services is unpredictable; however, in order to maintain a sustainable maternity workforce, WA midwives’ prioritised needs would suggest health management focus upon expanding the availability of midwifery models of care, fostering flexible working conditions and ensuring collaboration between maternity health professionals occurs within clinically safe staffing levels.
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