Letter: Assessing the value of nurses and midwives

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The Independent Online
From Ms Susie Tarver

Sir: I write in fury over the derisory support offered by the Department of Health to the midwifery profession ("The midwife crisis", 21 March). This down-to-earth body of nurses would probably be amused to hear themselves described as "angels", yet the calm compassion and undaunted sense of humour of the midwife who delivered my sons must rank her as near immortal.

When I went into labour in the early hours of the morning (unexpectedly, and in a remote rural area), the doctor who answered my emergency call replied that he was not on duty and the ambulancemen, when they arrived, considered the birth to be too far advanced for me to be moved. They radioed the district nurse, whom I had never met. When she arrived, breathless but only slightly dishevelled, she noted the complete absence of sterile instruments or boiling water, shrugged her shoulders good naturedly and got on with the job of delivering the baby. She then settled down to share my breakfast and write her report.

When my third baby was due, I made plans for a home delivery, and the same midwife delivered the baby with her calm good humour and quiet efficiency. She even took time to play with his older brother for a few moments before leaving to deal with another emergency.

Can anyone quantify the value of these women? How dare the Government offer them a paltry 1 per cent.

Yours ever,


Stedham, Midhurst

21 March