Original Research

Perceptions of midwives on shortage and retention of staff at a public hospital in Tshwane District

Mosehle S. Matlala, Thanyani G. Lumadi
Curationis | Vol 42, No 1 | a1952 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v42i1.1952 | © 2019 Mosehle S. Matlala, Thanyani G. Lumadi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2018 | Published: 22 July 2019

About the author(s)

Mosehle S. Matlala, Department of Health Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Thanyani G. Lumadi, Department of Health Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Midwifery is the backbone of women and child healthcare. The shortage of staff in maternity units is a crisis faced by many countries worldwide, including South Africa.

Objectives: This study aims to explore the perceptions of midwives on the shortage and retention of staff at a public institution.

Method: The study was conducted at one of the tertiary hospitals in Tshwane District, Gauteng Province. A total of 11 midwives were interviewed through face-to-face and focus group interviews. An explorative, descriptive generic qualitative design method was followed, and a non-probability, purposive sampling technique was used. Thematic coding analysis was followed for analysing data.

Results: The impact of shortage of midwives was reported to be directly related to poor provision of quality care as a result of increased workload, leading to low morale and burnout. The compromised autonomy of midwives in the high obstetrics dependency units devalues the status of midwives.

Conclusion: Midwives are passionate about their job, despite the hurdles related to their day-to-day work environment. They are demoralised by chronic shortage of staff and feel overworked. Staff involvement in decision-making processes is a motivational factor for midwives to stay in the profession. The midwives need to be in the centre of the decision-making processes related to their profession. The revision of the scope of practice and classification of midwifery profession away from general nursing complex by the South African Nursing Council (SANC) could place midwifery in its rightful status.


midwives; midwifery practice; retention; shortage; staff; recruitment; working environment; job satisfaction; quality care


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Crossref Citations

1. A global overview of midwives’ working conditions: A rapid review of literature on positive practice environment
Bielka Carvajal, Angela Hancock, Katharine Lewney, Karen Hagan, Sarah Jamieson, Alison Cooke
Women and Birth  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2023.08.007