is currently consulting with staff around a review of maternity services, which includes down-banding a significant number of senior midwives.
The RCM, RCN and Unison have united in their concern over the proposals.
The unions argue that the changes could adversely affect services and lead to midwifery shortages at the trust.
An estimated 40% of midwives at the trust could retire in the next few years and many of the midwives may choose to do this as a response to the plans, they claim.
They believe this may lead to recruitment problems and possible shortages of midwives at the trust.
The unions also feel there is a lack of clarity about some of the proposed roles and responsibilities of midwives within the planned structure.
Midwives are concerned that there could be fragmentation of services, which could have a detrimental affect on the care that women receive.
There is also concern that the trust’s risk assessments, costings and projections of their staffing levels are far from robust, and have yet to be shared fully with unions and staff. Midwives are being asked to respond to proposals without being given the full facts.
Anne Musgrave, head of midwifery for North Cumbria, said: ‘The midwifery service staffing structure is being reviewed to ensure it continues to provide a safe, efficient and high-quality service while also maintaining the correct number and skill mix of midwives.
‘We have reviewed the number of midwives and skill mix across the trust in line with national benchmarks.’
‘We have been working very closely with our midwifery staff and their representatives as part of a formal consultation. We engage with our staff and have policies that protect and support them through organisational change.’