About a year ago, I wrote a blog post on the importance of keeping an avuncular eye on your staff, so that you can spot if they fall (or start to trip) from the path of righteousness. I was reminded of this when I read a rather sad story on the BBC website. “Moonlighting midwife” Samantha Thomas was once the pride of her profession, nominated for midwife of the year and considered highly professional. But then she went through a messy and expensive divorce, and started cheating her employer in order to make more money, by altering time sheets and overcharging for mileage. In the end, she was found guilty of fraud, and ordered to pay compensation and do unpaid work.
Presumably her colleagues knew of her divorce. Did anyone express concern at how she was coping (or not coping)? Did anyone in the hospital, university and care home where she worked those long hours notice that she was looking a bit frazzled? Perhaps the concept of community is a bit old-fashioned, but I maintain that a caring and prudent organisation looks out for its staff, both for their well-being and for the safety of the organisation itself and its customers. After all, if Ms Thomas had been a banker or an accountant rather than a midwife, she would have looked for ways within those organisations to augment her income – perhaps inflating her expenses claims, or taking kickbacks from customers to overlook due diligence shortcomings. We all need a safety net from time to time, and vigilant colleagues can provide just that service.