Labour rooms in government hospitals have become a theatre for a battle between midwives and nurses --with the conflict affecting pregnant women in the throes of labour, the Sunday Times learns.
Midwives have been assisting the medical team in labour rooms headed by a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist during normal deliveries for many decades.
However, in recent times nurses who only have a cursory exposure to midwifery during their training have been demanding that they should be allowed to do the job, a hospital source said. This source pointed out that like midwives, nurses too had specific tasks in the labour room.
Every member of the team in the labour room is important and has a task to perform that is equally important for the safe delivery and health of both the mother and the baby, another source said, explaining that there was no issue of one group upstaging the other.
It is essential for the issue to be resolved and resolved soon, said a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who wondered aloud why there was a necessity to change a system that was working well and had no shortcomings.
This was a view echoed by many in the health service.
A senior health worker quoted clearly defined duties of a nurse and a midwife, pointing out that it should effectively be a pointer to halt the collision course that these two groups seem to be bent on.
A nurse, he said, is someone whose job it is to take care of the sick or injured, usually in a hospital, while a midwife is a person who is trained to help women to give birth to babies.
“While midwives are usually exclusively women, nurses can either be men or women,” he said, stressing that there is absolutely no overlap and the two duties are clearly defined.
In the labour room, both the nurses and the midwives must work in tandem as well as with the other staff in the best interests of the mother and the child, a veteran in the public health service said.
Maternal and infant mortality rates during normal deliveries in state hospitals should be scrutinized carefully and the workload of nurses who not only have duties in labour rooms, but elsewhere in the hospitals should be taken into account, another source added.
The consensus in health circles is that, Health Ministry bureaucrats should not drag their feet any longer over this matter but take prompt and firm decisions to defuse a tense situation.
(Next week: An in-depth look into the pros and cons)