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How do power and hierarchy influence staff safety in maternity services?

Tuesday, March 29, 2022 10:00 - 10:35

There are considerable tensions for healthcare staff between their employee allegiance and contracts, patient safety, and their responsibilities to codes of conduct within professional registration, and the NHS Constitution.

The research aim was to identify how power and hierarchy influence staff safety in maternity services, and this was achieved by reviewing research papers concerned with personal narratives of staff experiences and perspectives of employment in their profession.

This systematic narrative review was based on the approach of a narrative synthesis, with papers coded using Nvivo software.

Power and hierarchy influence staff safety in maternity services by creating challenges to staff safety, which appear to essentially derive from poor communication. The workplace adversity described by participants seems to be linked with 1) psychological vulnerability 1.1) anxiety about the job, and 1.2) dysfunctional relationships, alongside 2) working conditions 2.1) poor organisational and structural conditions 2.2) institutional normalization of dysfunctional relationships and 2.3) interpersonal elements feeding into an obstructive culture.

The negative influences of the cultural concepts of power and hierarchy on staff safety are significant within maternity services. Disconfirmation findings, those which stood out as different from the rest, evidenced the possibilities that healthy, psychologically safe working conditions could offer for healthcare staff in improving their prevailing culture.

Helen Elliott-Mainwaring, Job Title THIS Institute PhD Fellow (FT) University Midwifery & Nursing Lecturer (PT), The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS) University of Leicester