Work and workload of Dutch primary care midwives in 2010.
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OBJECTIVE: to re-assess the work and workload of primary care midwives in the Netherlands. BACKGROUND: in the Netherlands most midwives work in primary care as independent practitioners in a midwifery practice with two or more colleagues. Each practice provides 24/7 care coverage through office hours and on-call hours of the midwives. In 2006 the results of a time registration project of primary care midwives were published as part of a 4-year monitor study. This time the registration project was repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, in 2010. METHOD: as part of a larger study (the Deliver study) all midwives working in 20 midwifery practices kept a time register 24 hours a day, for one week. They also filled out questionnaires about their background, work schedules and experiences of workload. A second component of this study collected data from all midwifery practices in the Netherlands and included questions about practice size (number of midwives and number of clients in the previous year). FINDINGS: in 2010, primary care midwives actually worked on an average 32.6 hours per week and approximately 67% of their working time (almost 22 hours per week) was spent on client-related activities. On an average a midwife was on-call for 39 hours a week and almost 13 of the 32.6 hours of work took place during on-call-hours. This means that the total hours that an average midwife was involved in her work (either actually working or on-call) was almost 59 hours a week. Compared to 2004 the number of hours an average midwife was actually working increased by 4 hours (from 29 to 32.6 hours) whereas the total number of hours an average midwife was involved with her work decreased by 6 hours (from 65 to 59 hours). In 2010, compared to 2001-2004, the midwives spent proportionally less time on direct client care (67% versus 73%), although in actual number of hours this did not change much (22 versus 21). In 2009 the average workload of a midwife was 99 clients at booking, 56 at the start of labour, 33 at childbirth, and 90 clients in post partum care. CONCLUSION: the midwives worked on an average more hours in 2010 than they did in 2004 or 2001, but spent these extra hours increasingly on non-client-related activities.
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