Eliza Roberts is one of almost two dozen, mostly newly qualified, midwives to have joined Swansea Bay over the last few months.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m really excited to come to work and I haven’t felt like that in a long, long time.”
Pictured above: Interim Head of Midwifery Catherine Harris (left) with new midwife Eliza Thomas.
The new arrivals came together for a special event at Singleton Hospital, to meet the senior maternity services team, ask questions, and share their experiences, good or bad, in the weeks since starting work there.
Originally from Swansea, Eliza moved with her husband to the east of England six years ago when she decided to train as a midwife.
It was while on a hospital placement in her third and final year that she was bullied, an experience she recalls as truly awful.
After being moved to another hospital, she finally qualified in October 2022, continuing to work for a few months afterwards.
“But I started to develop anxiety and depression which continued to worsen, and I needed to take a lot of time off,” said Eliza.
“Last year we decided it would be best for me to move back to Swansea and apply for a new Band 5 position with Swansea Bay.
“After months of time off and mental health support, I finally felt ready to try going back into the profession I’d always wanted to do and that I had poured my heart and soul into – even during the pandemic.”
During the meet and greet event, Interim Head of Midwifery Catherine Harris told the new midwives there would be times they felt they could not do the work or were not good enough.
Other times, she told them, they would go home feeling there was something important they had forgotten to do.
But she said these feelings were natural and the new midwives would be supported all the way – encouraging them to talk to her and her team.
Eliza admitted she had experienced those very same feelings in the weeks since starting at Singleton.
“Since I’ve come back, I’ve spoken to loads of people about it and every single person has said the same thing – it’s a lovely place, we’ll look after you here,” she said. “Everyone openly talks about their experiences, and everyone is open about their own limitations as well.
“And the support has just been phenomenal. It’s been so good to feel like a midwife again after everything I went through.
“To know that I’ve got so much support and so much empathy, it’s just a true marker of this health board. Everything you do is just people working with people for people.
“It’s fantastic. I’m really excited to come to work and I haven’t felt like that in a long, long time.
“We’re in a maternity crisis but I’ve never seen people rally together like they do here. Everyone does as a midwife anyway, but here it just feels different. It feels so genuine, and people are so quick to help.
“I feel like it’s something I can deal with. It’s the camaraderie.”
Newly qualified midwives start their careers at Band 5. They then spend up to two years on their preceptorship.
This is an all-Wales programme where they work with experienced midwives to develop their skills. Eventually they will be ready move up to Band 6 with additional responsibilities.
There is a national shortage of midwives and maternity services in Swansea Bay have been under significant pressure for some time.
These pressures led to the difficult decision to suspend the Birth Centre at Neath Port Talbot Hospital and the home birth service two years ago.
All available resources were focused on Singleton Hospital to ensure safe care could be provided, in line with professional guidance.
Above: The newly recruited midwives along with senior maternity staff at the meet and greet event in Singleton Hospital.
However, last September, Swansea Bay announced it was investing £750,000 in hospital-based and community midwifery over two years.
Previous attempts to recruit additional midwives were mostly unsuccessful because of the UK-wide shortage.
Now, though, 21 midwives, mostly newly qualified Band 5s but including some experienced Band 6s from other health boards, have joined over the last few months, with a further two due to start later this month.
Swansea Bay has also recruited a first cohort of 14 Maternity Care Assistants who are now undergoing training. They will support midwives, freeing them up to do the work only they can do.
Catherine said it was that sense of camaraderie which Eliza spoke of that had got the service through the last few years.
“It’s the staff who have got us through this tough time,” she added. “We still have difficult times ahead. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not out of the woods but it’s definitely the staff pulling together, the teamwork.”
Please donate here: Support Carmarthenshire News Online Thank you for supporting independent journalism and contributing to the future of local news in Carmarthenshire. Carmarthenshire News Online has been dedicated to providing unbiased and trustworthy news, free from commercial or political influence. By donating as little as £1, you can help ensure the continuation of this important source of information for the community. Your contribution will have a significant impact on the sustainability of independent journalism. If you're looking to enhance your brand's visibility, we also offer advertising opportunities on our Livestream and podcasts. Our special offers provide excellent value for reaching our engaged audience. To learn more about these opportunities and to discuss your advertising needs, please feel free to call or text us at 07308598604. Thank you again for your support, and together we can ensure the availability of quality local news for Carmarthenshire and beyond.
Please donate here: Support Carmarthenshire News Online