Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Immigration - the true cost

There is a plethora of discussion about the financial impact that the high level of immigrants to this country from Eastern European Countries has on this country. We all know the arguments well – yes some of them contribute more in tax, earn more are more highly skilled but balanced against this is the fact that there has been no financial allowance made for the extra demands on the all the public services including the NHS. Because the migrant population is mainly young, they are deemed to be fit and healthy but this has had a huge impact on the already overstretched maternity services in this country. For example, an interpreter is needed for every woman accessing maternity care – this does not come cheap and is around £80 -£100 per hour. This is for all the care from the ante-natal, period, intra-natal and post-natal period. It does not take a mathematician to work out that this is a huge amount of money. However, this is not the issue – these women are entitled to and should receive the high level of excellent midwifery/maternity care that all women in this country receive.

The issue is that recently, there has been nothing but complaints from these Eastern European Women about the care that they received in England. I cannot cite them all but one woman in particular thought her care in labor was appalling because she did not have a doctor deliver her baby and she did not have an episiotomy to deliver the baby – she sustained a very small laceration that needed no suturing what-so-ever and had healed by day 7!! The actual care that this woman received in labor was very low tech, with no intervention, no continual monitoring and resulted in a water birth (which is what the woman had requested on her birth plan)! The question I have is – what is the problem? Why are these women complaining? All the ones that have complained have absolutely no justification whatsoever. All complaints have been thoroughly investigated and the women have had exemplary ante-natal care with an interpreter present, the same in labour and the same post-natally with much more support at home that they would have in their own countries. Britain is the only country that still does post-natal visiting at home!
Another point worth flagging up – is as one woman told me – in labour, in Poland, no pain relief is offered or allowed in labor at all!!

So, what is going on? Will this level of complaints increase? Are they really at the receiving end of terrible care or are they just jumping on to the band wagon of the ‘claim culture’ that we have bred in Britain?

What ever the issue is, midwives need to be alerted to it and quickly put a halt to it. What concerns me is that the fact the women from other countries don’t seem to understand that midwives are professionals in their own right and are on an equal standing with obstetricians and doctors – perhaps it is just a misunderstanding and this can be easily remedied in the parent craft education. If it is not, then immigration might have a big part to play on the midwives role and change it and if we are not careful, midwives might find themselves working as obstetric nurses.

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