A day in the life of an MCA in Scotland

By Cher Dougan, maternity care assistant Dumfries on 24 November 2022 Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay and Agenda For Change

For MSW/MCA Celebration Day, Cher Dougan shares her 15 years of experience, what she loves about being an maternity care assistant (MCA) and what she hopes for the future in this day in the life blog. Laura Boyce, Head of Midwifery at NHS Dumfries and Galloway adds some additional messages. 

Hi I am Cher I have been an maternity care assistant in Dumfries for 15 years and I am very proud to have been on the first cohort for the HNC Maternity Care Assistant Course in Scotland. I have seen the role developing in many different areas over the past 15 years, but I still believe we have further to go.

I feel privileged to be an MCA and the thing I love most about my role is empowering women and their partners to take control of their parenting journeys. I work in the community and a big part of my role is breastfeeding and parent education. I love spending time with people and discussing all the options available to them as this ensures that they have made informed choices. I then support them with their decisions by providing support in the postnatal period with feeding or parenting. This gives me the opportunity to develop good relationships and also gives me great job satisfaction as I have followed them through their whole pregnancy.

My days are always full and at times an extra day in the week would come in useful. My days are filled with postnatal visits, OGTT, blood tests, observations, auditing and assisting the midwife with other tasks to name but a few.

I don’t feel that MCA/MSWS get the recognition for the hard work they do or that the role is fully recognised as being an important part of midwifery. We all need to raise the profile of our role and awareness of the contributions we all make. For MSW Day we should be proud of all that we have achieved in the last 15 years and should be excited for the future development of our roles.  

The role was developed to fill the gap in midwifery services and support the midwives with their ever increasing work load. The role has indeed taken some of the non midwifery task from the midwife but sadly the workload has continued to increase for both the midwife and support staff. As a staff group we are facing harder working conditions, with fewer staff, years of underfunding and many staff leaving the profession as they feel over worked and undervalued.

I now get paid less money at the top of a band 4 as I am salaried, than what I was paid as a band 2 working unsociable hours. I am so glad that the RCM has taken the concerns of its members seriously and we are now looking at strike action.

The whole of the midwifery workforce feels undervalued and under paid, the time has come for us all, midwives and support workers to be paid fairly for the jobs we do. We all want to keep women and babies safe so let’s ask the Government to increase our staffing and give us what we are worth. Together with the RCM I truly believe we can make our voices heard.

I am Laura Boyce, Head of Midwifery at NHS Dumfries and Galloway.  I want to convey my thanks to the Maternity Care Assistants (MCA) and Maternity Support Workers (MSW) working in our areas.  Each and every one of them provide an invaluable role alongside the midwives in empowering women and families for their pregnancy and parenthood journeys. 

The role of the MCA/MSW is essential to the delivery of safe, person-centred maternity care both in our hospital and community settings here in Dumfries and Galloway. Our MCA and MSWs need to know how proud we are of them as part of our team, today and every other day.   

The support they offer in a range of circumstances from antenatal to postnatal care, in parenthood education to blood tests, in the hospital wards to families' homes has evolved and developed significantly over the last few challenging years in particular. The role of MCA/MSWs is not one to be viewed as replacing midwives but in supporting, as one team, the delivery of the best care we can. 

During COVID-19 the services had to adapt quickly, and the flexibility of the MCA/MSWs in supporting the maternity workforce was exceptional. One area where this was particularly innovative was the development of an infant feeding online workshop to ensure families continued to be able to access impartial, evidence-based advice in a supportive manner with the health professionals they knew, utilising technology enabled care. The learning from this has continued as we explore hybrid options for delivering care across the region.

We are committed to raising the profile, and celebrate the successes of our MCA/MSWs here locally in Dumfries and Galloway and want to thank the RCM in providing the platform to celebrate on this day.