A cautionary holiday tale

Or how risk management ruined Rudolph’s day…


Rudolph the red-nosed quantity surveyor looked up at the camera as he pressed the bell which would let the midwives know that he was at the labour ward door. A friendly but almost unintelligible voice greeted him over the speaker before he heard the familiar buzz as the door lock released to let him in.

He had always felt a bit ambivalent about being sent to the labour ward. On the plus side, there was always an open box of chocolates on the desk, which nobody seemed to mind him helping himself to. There was also, however, the worry that he might get stuck in the lift with one of the occasional women whose body just got on with it and gave birth before she had been officially admitted. They didn’t cover that scenario in the annual Trust health and safety days, although Rudolph imagined that it was only a matter of time before it was added to the curriculum. He celebrated his arrival at the midwives’ station with a coffee cream and addressed the midwife who was co-ordinating that day.


Hark, the health and safety thing

“I’ve been sent to weigh the birth balls,” Rudolph told her, indicating the scales under his arm. “After all that fuss with the water pool, management don’t want to take any risks and I’m to make sure it’s safe to store them all in one cupboard. I’m due a tea break first though, if that’s OK with you? I’ve been on my feet all morning.”

“Yes, I know that feeling very well,” Carol smiled. She pointed to the break room. “You know where to go.”

Rudolph did. With a wave at Noel, the consultant obstetrician whose desk Rudolph had measured for last year’s stocktake, he sauntered to the empty break room and switched on the kettle.

Which was also empty as well as cold, he realised. “Those poor midwives,” he thought. “Do they never get a cuppa nowadays?”


Past Tea O-Clock

Resolving to use his own break time to make a round of tea for those on duty, Rudolph filled the kettle and began to look for the large brown teapot that he remembered from holidays past. He spotted it at the very back of the cupboard, and looked around for something he could stand on to reach it. The old armchairs had been replaced with revolving office chairs and birth balls in a move to protect the midwives’ backs, and neither option was going to help him reach his goal. He spotted a CTG machine just outside the break room and quickly pulled that into place.

Drawing on tea years’ worth of ladder-climbing experience in Estates, Rudolph was quickly up onto the monitor and hauling the supersized teapot out of the cupboard before he could be spotted.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t accounted for trio of quality assurance officers who were walking past the door of the break room.

“Crikey! Is that a dad in there?”

“What’s he doing on a CTG?”

“Is this sort of thing covered in the NICE guidelines?”


Deck the Birth Balls

Rudolph would have attempted to answer if his mouth hadn’t been full of a lonely chocolate digestive that he had spied while in the cupboard and popped in whole. As luck would have it, he was saved from having to think of something appropriate to say by the arrival of Carol and a small tribe of student midwives, to whom she had clearly already taught the art of bustling into a room and instantly appraising the situation.

The quality assurance team were still exclaiming in the background but Rudolph heard one voice more clearly than all the overs. It was Carol’s.

“That’s a rather unusual position you’ve chosen to make tea in, Rudolph. We’ll need to fill out an incident form,” she said, with a nod at Holly, the risk management midwife. “It’s policy.”

“Alright,” said Rudolph, a bit reluctantly. But as he began to climb down from the CTG machine, Noel arrived in the break room with such an enormous pile of tinsel that he could barely see over it. As if in slow motion, Noel stumbled into the CTG machine, Rudolph almost fell off it and was saved only because he landed in the arms of Holly, whose reflexes happily kicked in and made her drop her forms in order to prevent an actual accident. A bit of mistletoe fell from the ceiling onto Rudolph’s head. For a nanosecond, peace reigned.

“We must reflect on this,” Carol exclaimed to the midwifery students. “If the teapot had still been in regular use, this would never have happened!”

“My goodness”, replied Noel. “It’s a good job you came to the labour ward to have your tea break, Rudolph. Just imagine what might have happened if you had tried to do that at home!”


Photo by Evelin Horvath on Unsplash

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