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Inter professional relationships on labour ward: how well do anaesthetists and midwives get along?
Abstract Number: F-33
Abstract Type: Other
Introduction: Anaesthetists and midwives work in close collaboration in the unique and often highly charged environment of labour ward. In such settings, effective inter professional relationships are key to the delivery of high quality care and consequently better patient outcomes. Successful collaborative practice can be negatively impacted by barriers such as lack of clarity on the scope of roles of team members, poor communication, or stereotyping. We conducted a survey in our maternity unit to reflect upon this working relationship and to see how it may be improved.
Methods: A questionnaire was designed and distributed to midwives and anaesthetists of all grades. Questions were asked on their understanding of each other's professional role and on their perception of the quality and effectiveness of their working relationship. A total of 55 responses were collected (28 anaesthetists and 27 midwives).
Results: The majority of respondents were reasonably experienced with 57% of anaesthetists and 59% of midwives having worked for more than 5 years on maternity units. When asked whether they felt they understood the scope of responsibilities of midwives on labour ward, only 32% of anaesthetists felt they understood it fully. In contrast, 55% of midwives believed they fully understood the scope of the anaesthetist's responsibilities.
Thirty three percent of midwives felt that collaboration with anaesthetists was 'very easy', compared to only 13% of anaesthetists who felt the same about collaboration with their midwife colleagues. While 14% of anaesthetists found this collaboration 'difficult', none of the midwives did (0%). Sixty four percent of anaesthetists felt their input was 'usually' well-received by their midwife colleagues, in contrast to 51% of midwives who thought their input was 'usually' well-received by the anaesthetist. Both professions were asked how they perceived the general quality of communication between them. The majority of anaesthetists (47%) perceived it as 'fair', while 10% regarded it as 'poor'. 84% of midwives felt it was either 'very good' or 'good'. None of the midwives (0%) felt it to be 'poor'. Questions were asked on the types of obstacles they encountered in their professional interaction. Most anaesthetists (65%) agreed that they found fixation on tasks and exclusion of others to be a challenge, followed by delayed or non-communication of important issues (42%). Twenty nine percent of anaesthetists felt they rarely got a comprehensive handover from the midwife while only 33% of midwives felt they always understood the rationale behind the anaesthetists' decisions.
Conclusion: Despite both specialties working in close proximity, the survey identified several gaps in communication. Working towards enhancement of the professional relationship between members of the team providing maternity services will help facilitate their collaboration and will reflect positively on the performance of both professions.