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Gatekeeping access to the midwifery unit: Managing complaints by bending the rules

Allan, H. T., Odelius, A., Hunter, Billie ORCID:, Bryan, K., Knibb, W. and Shawe, J. 2015. Gatekeeping access to the midwifery unit: Managing complaints by bending the rules. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine 19 (6) , pp. 652-669. 10.1177/1363459314567791

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While poor communication between service users and front-line staff causes many service user complaints in the British National Health Service, staff rarely reflect on the causes of these complaints. We discuss findings from an action research project with midwives which suggest that the midwives struggled to fully understand complaints from women, their partners and families particularly about restricted visiting and the locked door to the midwifery unit. They responded to individual requests to visit out of hours while maintaining the general policy of restricted visiting. In this way, the door was a gatekeeping device which allowed access to the unit within certain rules. The locked door remained a barrier to women and their families and as a result was a common source of informal complaints. We argue that the locked door and restricted visiting to the midwifery unit were forms of gatekeeping and boundary making by midwives which reveals a tension between their espoused woman-centred care and contemporary midwifery practice which is increasingly constrained by institutional values.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Additional Information: Published online before print January 27, 2015
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1363-4593
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 10:27

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