The RCM policy team represents the interests of midwives and maternity support workers. We strive to promote excellence, innovation and leadership in the care of childbearing women, the newborn and their families, locally, nationally and internationally. We work in partnership with other organisations who share our interests, and use our influence to make the voices of midwives and MSWs heard at the highest level.
Policy Team Updates
Every month we highlight the some of the key policy and public affairs activities we undertake on behalf of our members.
We launched a new guide for midwives on the homelessness reduction act, on 11 March in Salford with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and continued editing a new guide for midwives on infant mental health. RCM reps from London came to HQ for training – we gave them an update on the Long Term Plan. We also spoke about the implications of the LTP to meetings of students at Kings College London, of RCM activists at Exeter of RCM members at the AGM of St Thomas’s RCM Branch. RCM Fellow Laura Abbot gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the plight of childbearing women in prison. You can watch her – and Birth Companions chief executive Naomi Delap - on the UK Parliament website. We responded to consultations about restricting promotions of unhealthy food and drink, and on the priorities for the National Data Guardian, focussing on our opposition to sharing migrants’ NHS data with the Home Office. We met with the NHS Maternity Transformation Choice Pioneers and created a survey for members to tell us what they think of the new draft NMC education standards. At our regular One Voice meeting we joined with our partners in RCOG, RCPCH, Sands and the NCT in discussing joint activities for later this year, including a parliamentary reception and lobbying the House of Commons Health Committee to open an inquiry into maternity services in England.
We were out and about across the country for International Day of the Midwife. We spoke at the TUC in London on human rights, and joined midwives in Exeter, the Whittington and St George’s for the celebrations (and cake!) We joined academics, charities, and other NHS staff organisations for a meeting about migrants’ access to the NHS and went to a lecture on the same subject at UCL, from Patients not Passports and Migrants Organize. We met with the White Ribbon Alliance and Birthrights for a chat about shared priorities for improving maternal health, and with the NHS England Maternity Tariff Expert Group. The RCM Student midwives forum helped us shape a new survey for RCM student members to better understand their experience of student finance across the UK. We answered consultations on Advanced Clinical Practice, Integrated Care Systems; Learning disability and autism training; pregnancy and maternity discrimination; and Improving Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and interventions for victims of domestic abuse (MARAC).
We submitted evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee inquiry into legislative changes relating to the Long Term Plan and also responded to the NHS England consultation on the same subject. We also addressed a policy conference on the implications of the Long Term Plan for maternity services. Working with our colleagues in RCM Wales and our media officers we responded to the Welsh Government’s review into maternity services at Cwm Taf University Health Board.
We launched our latest position statement on Support to Quit Smoking in Pregnancy and a blog to explain its purpose. We worked with the White Ribbon Alliance, Birthrights and Make Birth Better on a submission to the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur on mistreatment and violence against perinatal women. We submitted our views to the NMC on the new Midwifery Education Standards, thanks to those of you who gave us our views in our survey! We joined Birth Companions for their workshop Beyond the Gate, where NGOs, NHS England, prison staff, midwives and women with lived experience discussed how the justice system and healthcare can work together to improve outcomes for perinatal women. We joined the University of Greenwich and other midwifery leaders to start to map out the first Midwifery Apprenticeship course in England. We launched a survey for RCM student members on their experience of student finance, began work on our presentation to the RCM Education conference in Bath next month.
We met with our colleagues in the policy team at RCOG to discuss future plans and possible collaborations. We supported our colleagues in RCM Scotland with the drafting of an amendment that made it into the final version of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill. We attended a meeting at NHS Resolution to discuss progress in implementing the early notification scheme for reporting incidents of potentially serious brain injuries in babies.
We were proud to attend the Memcom awards on behalf of the whole RCM team as we were up for three awards relating to our 2018 Student Recruitment Campaign, MSW Week and Annual Conference. We claimed a Highly Commended award for Annual Conference in the Membership Event of the Year. We joined midwives in education and research in a (very rainy!) Bath for our Annual Education Conference and presented our emerging findings on student recruitment and the state of the education workforce. We enjoyed Billie Hunter’s Zepherina Veitch Memorial Lecture and congratulations to our new RCM Fellows who were announced at the conference too. We joined Maternity Action to meet with Health Minister Jacqui Doyle Price MP at Parliament to raise our concerns about survivors of domestic and sexual abuse being charged for their maternity care – and we watched Health Minister Stephen Hammond face some tough questioning in Parliament over why the government isn't publishing its report into the harm charging causes. We collaborated with the BMA on a response to the consultation on health care in detention centres, and also gave our views on termination of pregnancy and role of coroners in investigating stillbirths. We began interviewing Heads of Midwifery in Scotland to investigate delivering maternity services in remote and rural areas.
We attended a meeting at the TUC along with other health unions and campaign bodies to discuss plans for a campaign to call for more investment in mental health services. We attended the annual NHS Confederation Conference in Manchester, which was a good opportunity for networking and lobbying. We attended the first meeting of the People Plan Advisory Board, which is the body charged with overseeing the publication of the final NHS People Plan. We met with colleagues from the Association of Anaesthetists to hear more about their campaign to raise awareness about fatigue in the workplace. The Association are keen to support our Caring for You campaign and we have pledged to support their Fight Fatigue campaign. The House of Commons Health Committee published a report of its inquiry into sexual health services. In our submission to the inquiry we had argued against the fragmentation and cuts to sexual health services and on this the Committee were in agreement with us.
We began the month digesting the new Maternity Strategy for Wales, which contains some very welcome initiatives on caring for women in the best way possible, and a recognition that the wellbeing of staff is critical to the quality of care for women and their families. We closed the RCM student finance survey and began the analysis – thank you to the over 1,000 RCM student members who responded! We worked with specialist midwives on an update to our publication on maternal and infant mental health, and contributed comments to more Blue Top Guidance coming from the RCM later this year. With our fellow members of the We Trust Women Campaign, we successfully lobbied MPs and peers to force Northern Ireland to make a change to their archaic laws around access to abortion through an amendment brought by Stella Creasy MP. We continued work on new position statements, we responded to consultations on accommodation support for survivors of domestic abuse, and began work on updating our Getting the Midwifery Workforce Right document.
We attended workshops organised by the TUC on digital campaigning for trade unions and by RCOG and the Nuffield Trust on issues relating to small, rural and remote maternity services. We signed up to support the All Kids Count campaign which is calling on the Government to remove the two-child limit on benefits payments. We submitted motions on perinatal mental health and migrant charging to this years TUC Congress. We attended the first meeting of the Stakeholder Council of the Children and Young People’s Transformation Programme.
If you have any questions or comments about our work in the Policy Team, please contact Head of Health and Social Policy, Sean O'Sullivan