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What makes an excellent labour ward co-ordinator? Insights from the multidisciplinary team

02 August 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 8



Poor multidisciplinary teamwork on labour wards may lead to adverse consequences for women and babies. The labour ward co-ordinator is a central role in the multidisciplinary team; however, there has been little research into explore the skills and attributes necessary for this role. This study aimed to explore the labour ward co-ordinator's skills and attributes and their impact on multidisciplinary team working.


Constructive grounded theory was used to explore the perceptions of 21 labour ward multidisciplinary team members recruited using theoretical sampling from a maternity unit in northern England.


Labour ward co-ordinators play significant roles in ward organisation, team situational awareness and a well-functioning multidisciplinary team. Co-ordinators had situational awareness through a ‘helicopter view’ of the ward, supported decision making and were approachable. Excellent labour ward co-ordinators used situational awareness to pre-empt emergencies and forward plan.


The labour ward co-ordinator role requires a different skillset to that of midwives delivering one-to-one care in labour. To develop midwives into the co-ordinator role, attention to continuing professional development is essential. Recruitment of consultant midwives dedicated to supporting midwives delivering care to women in labour should be considered.

There are reports dating back to 2006 relating to multidisciplinary team working and the associated consequences for women and babies on the labour ward (Healthcare Commission, 2006; Kirkup, 2015; 2022; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2017; Care Quality Commission, 2021; Ockenden, 2022). Despite this, there has been minimal examination of the role of the labour ward co-ordinator (Bunford and Hamilton 2019). For the duration of their shift, the labour ward co-ordinator is the focal point for all activity and communication in the multidisciplinary team, having a profound influence on team working and clinical decision making. The labour ward co-ordinator's role is key to the effective functioning of the labour ward and the safety of women and babies (Mackintosh et al, 2009; Abbott et al, 2012; Bunford and Hamilton, 2019).

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