Pressing Pause

On this International Day of the Midwife, let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting a culture of civility and respect in maternity. We are taking concrete steps to address incivility in the workplace and ensure that staff can work in a safe and supportive environment.




By fostering a culture of respect and professionalism, we can empower staff to provide the best possible care for mothers, birthing people and infants, and help ensure safe and healthy births for all.

Professional Midwifery Advocate Gemma Price shared: “Midwifery is a critical field that plays a vital role in ensuring safe and healthy births for both mothers, birthing people and infants. However, like any other profession, midwifery is not immune to incivility. Incivility can range from subtle remarks to outright rudeness and can negatively impact the mental health and job satisfaction of staff working in maternity services, ultimately leading to decreased quality of care for patients.”

To address this issue, Gemma and staff working across maternity involved in the working group have been supported by the Quality Improvement team to  implement various methods to tackle incivility in the workplace. One such scheme is the 'Press Pause' scheme, implementing clear and structured steps to reducing incivility and improving working conditions for midwives.

The 'Press Pause' scheme is a simple yet effective way to address incivility in the workplace. It involves staff taking a moment to pause which can make the difference between a reaction and a response.

The team have put together a toolkit designed to encourage staff to feel more confident in addressing those who have been uncivil and encourages everyone to become an Active Bystander. Our civility champions are staff members across maternity who are there to provide support, encouragement and sign posting as is required.

We have co-created a Gold Standard of how staff want to be treated when they come to work with answers straight from those working clinically. This has several benefits for midwives and patients. Firstly, it promotes a culture of respect and professionalism in the workplace. The combinations of the initiatives are designed to help staff to be more likely to treat their colleagues and patients with respect and kindness, leading to a more positive work environment and better patient outcomes.

Gemma Price said: “Compassion is key and sometimes, when under pressure, can be incredibly challenging to find during times of difficulty and adversity – no matter who you are as a person. During challenging times, staff may feel drained of compassion which is why Press Pause works as a restorative method to realign and compose feelings, thoughts and behaviours.”

We hope the scheme will improve the mental health and job satisfaction for our staff. Finally, the Civility project will hopefully have a positive impact on patient care. When staff practice civility in the workplace, they are more likely to work collaboratively with their colleagues, leading to improved communication and better patient outcomes.

In conclusion, incivility is a problem across the NHS as a whole, but it can be tackled through projects such as ours. By promoting a culture of respect and professionalism in the workplace, this civility work can improve the mental health and job satisfaction of staff while also leading to better patient outcomes. It is an essential step towards ensuring safe and healthy births for all mothers, birthing people and infants.