General Election 2024

As well as supporting midwives, MSWs and MCAs at work, one of the RCM’s most important roles is to campaign on your behalf, from pay to practice, estates to education. We do this in all sorts of ways, from lobbying politicians and policy-makers across the UK to raising the profile of what you do, and its importance, with the public.  

On 4 July, voters across the UK will be going to the polls, with the NHS one of the key issues.

We have three clear asks of the next Parliament:

  • Staffing shortages compromise safety. We need more midwives and maternity support workers so that women and families receive the care they need, and more educators and researchers to ensure that maternity care in the UK is the envy of the world.  
  • We need to retain our skilled and experienced staff not only to provide that care, but also to support the next generation of midwives. We must value them through fair pay and fair work practices, including recognising their personal caring responsibilities. 
  • Ensuring midwives and MSWs have the time to train, develop and refine their skills, as part of a multidisciplinary team, throughout their working lives is fundamental to providing safe, good quality care.
Here’s what we’ve already published on these issues: 

 

  • Flexibility and creativity around shift patterns have the potential to retain midwives and MSWs within the NHS. We need to learn from Trusts and Boards where this is working well and apply it more broadly. 
  • Maternity services are not physically fit for purpose. Significant investment is needed to ensure that rooms that can’t accommodate vital equipment and ceilings held up with props are consigned to history.  
  • There should be no difference between the experiences of Black and Asian women and staff, or any marginalised group, and their white counterparts. Sadly we know that this is not always the case. We need to address this with urgency, underpinned by investment for improved training and support. 
Here’s what we’ve already published on these issues
  • Midwifery students are weighed down by unacceptable levels of debt. Teaching, clinical placements and, increasingly, caring responsibilities leave no time for part-time jobs. Student debt for those committed to working in the NHS must be forgiven. 
  • We have a chronic shortage of midwives, yet students are graduating without a job to go to. This could be easily resolved by better co-ordination between the health and higher education sectors, locally and nationally, to ensure we have the right staff in the right places, and that we do not lose this generation of midwives from the profession. 
  • Midwifery practice, education and research should be underpinned by collaborative working and positive leadership. Midwives and MSWs should be supported through their career to ensure every generation is well led. 
Here’s what we’ve already published on these issues 

How you can put maternity and midwifery care on the election map

Make sure you’re registered to vote. You only have until 18 June to register, but it’s really simple to do.

Although polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm, we know shift patterns can make things tricky. Apply for a postal or proxy vote so you can still vote, no matter what your shift throws at you.

To vote in any election in the UK, you now need photo identification (ID), either for yourself or as a proxy (and the ID needs to be for you, if you are voting for someone else as their proxy).

Without it, you can't vote.

Forms of ID

If you don’t have any of the forms of ID listed, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, though only in England, Scotland and Wales. The deadline for applying for a Voter Authority Certificate is 5pm on Wednesday 26 June.

In NI, you need an Electoral Identity Card, the deadline for which is midnight on Wednesday 26 June.

During the campaign, someone may knock on your door, call you, or you may bump into campaigners in the street. They will want to ask you how you plan to vote. It would be great if you could raise with them issues highlighted by the RCM – and the way to make that most impactful is to illustrate them from your own experience. How are issues like shortages, pay restraint, student debt, etc. affecting you and your colleagues? Personalised information like this will have the biggest impact. If the person who canvasses you isn’t the candidate then say you’d like the candidate to email you with their response to the specific issues you raise – ask them directly what practical steps they will take to sort out the issues you raise.

Even if you don’t see your candidates locally, you can still reach out to them during the campaign. Try to contact all the candidates standing locally. The best way is by email, and you should be able to find an email address via their website or social media accounts. Posting at them on X or Facebook is less likely to get a response, although direct messaging may be more successful. If you email them, make sure to mention that you live in the constituency, ideally include your postal address so they know you are a local voter. Strengthen your message with your own experiences, and ask for a reply from the candidate.

Hustings are events where typically all candidates for a constituency are invited to speak and answer questions from local people. Most areas will have a few of these during the campaign. These are a great opportunity to put a question to all candidates at the same time. Keep an eye out for them, or you could even ask candidates if they are attending one. Some candidates will also organise events where just they appear and answer questions from local people. These are different from hustings as they are organised by just one candidate.

Local radio or TV stations often have slots either with individual candidates or with several candidates at once where people can phone in and ask questions. Keep an eye out for these and get involved.

This is an opportunity to find out where your local candidates stand on the issues that are most important to you. As midwives and MSWs, these may well be around maternity care and midwifery education. Below are some examples of the key issues to ask about, but always try to add personal or local information. Because health is a devolved issue, we’ve got some nation-specific suggestions:

  • England: We are 2,500 midwives short, which risks the safety of women using maternity services. How does your party propose to fix this, and what would you do as an MP to raise this issue in Parliament?
  • All nations: Do you and your party support giving midwives and other NHS staff decent, above-inflation pay rises in every year of the next Parliament?
  • All nations: Black and Asian women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women. What would your party do in government to eliminate these differences and by when?
  • All nations: Women who live in the poorest areas are more likely to die in childbirth than women who live in the wealthiest areas. What would your party do to close that gap and get women and families the support they need?
  • England: Student midwives graduate with appalling levels of debt. Would your party support their courses being exempt from tuition fees if those students went on to work in the NHS?
  • Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland: Student midwives graduate with appalling levels of debt. What practical steps would your party take to address this?
  • Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland: Our own government here in Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland makes decisions about maternity services here, but can I ask you what you and your party would do to make sure that we get more money from the UK Government in London to improve maternity services here and to deliver fair pay for healthcare workers here too?
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