At MSI Reproductive Choices UK, we love hearing from our colleagues about their passion for providing essential healthcare services, and ensuring that people across England can exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
We interviewed Giselle Barnes – Clinical Services Matron at our clinic in Bristol – on what being an abortion provider means to her.
How and why did you start working for MSI?
How is interesting… I don’t really know how! I saw the job for a midwife team member (I am now a Clinical Services Matron in the Bristol Centre) and even though I wasn’t really looking for a new job, it looked interesting – it looked different. I was particularly interested as a midwife. People don’t associate midwives with doing this kind of job, because people think that midwives just deliver babies – but actually, that’s not true. The word ‘midwife’ means ‘with women’, and that is what we are doing here – we are spending time with women every day, giving them proper care and advice that is evidence-based and informative, so that they can make a decision. I’ve never felt more like I am ‘with women’ than I do here. It’s amazing.
Tell me a bit about your team.
There are around 12 clinicians – that includes healthcare assistants, nurses and midwives – and then front of house staff and managers. It’s quite a small team, but it’s a very close-knit team – we work extremely well together, our communication is very good, and I think the best thing is that we’re all in this job for the right reasons – we’re all in it to provide the best care for our clients. All of our clients get the best of us.
What would you say is your favourite part of the job?
One of my favourite things about this job is how rewarding it is. Clients come into the clinic and you see a real sense of relief from them, a sense of thankfulness because they don’t expect you to be nice – they genuinely expect you to be horrible! It’s so nice to get feedback from our clients saying thank you. Helping clients who are in a rubbish situation is amazing.
Also, I’m really passionate about contraception. I’m the contraception lead in this clinic, and I’ve just recently learned how to fit coils having been fitting implants for a couple of years now. It’s really nice to see clients come back for contraception after their abortion – often three or four weeks after – and they’re in a completely different mindset. They feel like they can look to the future and think about what they need to do to make sure they are protected and can carry on with their lives. It’s really nice to see our clients in a much better and happier place. It’s also great to inform clients and dispel myths about contraception.
What do you want others to know about what it means to be an abortion provider?
Sometimes, clients will turn to me and say ‘Why would you want to work here? Why would you want to do this job?’ or they might say ‘Do you judge me for this’? If I judged clients, I would not be doing this job. The people who work here are not going to judge anyone and are going to care for everyone in whatever way we can.
Whatever the situation, we’ll treat you with the dignity and respect that you deserve, whatever decision you make.
It’s also important to let clients know that they’re not wasting anyone’s time by coming to the clinic, even if they’re not sure about their decision. Sometimes, our clients come in and are unsure about what they want to do and feel bad for ‘wasting an appointment’. That’s not the case at all – we’d rather you come here so that we can talk to you, discuss your options and you can leave with more information than you came in with. We are healthcare professionals, and we will always do our best for you.
I also want people to know that abortion is healthcare, and it’s common! Nearly 1 in 3 pregnancies end in an abortion worldwide. You don’t have to be young; you don’t have to be old – there’s no certain demographic. No matter what contraception you use, you can do your absolute best, but sometimes this is the way it goes. It’s about being able to provide information to help people make the decision that is right for them – no matter what age, no matter what stage of their life.
Why are you proud of the work that you do?
Being able to go above and beyond is something I think we are particularly good at. A client comes here for an abortion and we can then signpost to support for housing, support for childcare, mental health support – all these things that they didn’t come here for, but actually need. I think it’s an amazing thing to do. We don’t just provide abortion care –really, that’s a small part of what we do.
I am also proud of giving every client time – not just the time that they are allocated, but whatever time they need. We will always give that to them, no matter what.
How or why do you think “reproductive choice” contributes to equality?
When clients can choose to have children – or not to have children – and can make that choice at a time that’s right for them, that definitely contributes to equality. It’s so important to enable clients to make those choices so that they can do what they want with their lives. A 15-year-old at school can finish their education if that’s what they want to do, they don’t have to leave and bring up a child – and we know that there will be financial, mental and emotional hardships from raising a child, if it’s something they haven’t chosen.
Reproductive choice contributes to healthcare equality as well. We know that whether abortion is legal or not, abortion will happen. We know that abortion happened before it was legal in the UK and we know it happens in countries where it’s restricted. Being able to provide safe abortion care means that clients have that healthcare equality as well – they’re not having to travel for miles to get basic healthcare needs met and they’re not having to risk their lives for basic and very safe healthcare.
Read more from our colleagues
At MSI UK, we love interviewing our colleagues to find out more about their work and how their roles contribute to our mission to deliver quality reproductive healthcare. Below, you can read some of our latest interviews:
- “All I have ever wanted to do is help, so to be able to help someone in their decision makes me proud every day and that will never change.” – Interview with Angela Gale, Registered Midwife at our Maidstone clinic, about why she is proud to be a midwife in abortion care.
- “I have never felt more like a midwife than I do in this role.” – Interview with Grace Louisa Ash, MSI UK Practice Development and Advocacy Midwife, about what being a midwife and an advocate for nurses and midwives across England means to her.
- Why making a difference is a real privilege – Interview with Ailish McEntee, MSI UK Named Midwife for Safeguarding Adults and Children, about safeguarding at MSI UK, and how we care for and support our clients.
- “Being a part of MSI and helping so many people access care feels amazing.” – Interview with Sarah Salkeld, Associate Clinical Director at MSI UK, about contraception services at MSI UK, and the importance of having the choice to access contraception.
- “We are here to help empower people to make the decision that is right for them.” – Interview with Ben Tallis, Client Care Coordinator at our National Call Centre in Bristol, about supporting the clients who get in touch with our call centre from all over England.
- “If it’s your body, it’s your choice.” – Interview with Stephanie Pérez, Regional General Manager in Sussex, about how she supports our clients within her role.
Careers at MSI Reproductive Choices UK
At MSI Reproductive Choices, we are looking for pro-choice and passionate professionals to join us in our mission.
MSI Reproductive Choices employs over 500 people in the United Kingdom alone, all of whom are dedicated to delivering the highest quality abortion and vasectomy care.
We know that our most valuable assets are the people that work for us. By joining MSI Reproductive Choices, you’ll become part of a committed team that work to make sure we provide the best possible care and support to our clients.
If you are interested in a career at MSI UK, find our current open positions here: Join Our Team