‘NHS Scotland must value its staff and listen when they say they are at breaking point says RCM’

By RCM on 27 July 2017 NHS Scotland RCM Midwives Staffing Levels Mary Ross Davie Report

A report* released today by Audit Scotland has said that Scotland’s government and health boards have failed to plan effectively for long-term staffing challenges.

The report, by Auditor General Caroline Gardner, said ‘it was vital that the government and NHS bosses plan more effectively for the future’.

Responding to today’s report The Royal College of Midwives (RCMs) Director for Scotland, Mary Ross-Davie says; “The Audit Scotland report shines a welcome light on the significant challenges facing the NHS in Scotland.  The RCM fully supports the recommendations that more robust, longer term workforce planning is required to ensure high quality services and that clear long term funding plans should be agreed for implementing policy.

“The report highlights the huge squeeze on NHS budgets, with boards expected to make year on year savings, while demand for services increases.  The Scottish Government cannot expect quality of care to be maintained or improved if we continue to expect hard working staff, including midwives, to do more with less.

“Workforce planning is highlighted as a challenge across NHS Scotland and we know this is particularly true in maternity care. In Scotland 41% of midwives are over 50, with many more midwives retiring in the last year than in previous years. Heads of Midwifery are finding it increasingly difficult to fill vacant midwifery posts as midwives leave, with particular pressures in the North of Scotland and more remote areas. To counteract this drain on midwifery numbers there need to be clear, detailed plans for continuing to increase the number of training places for midwives and the opportunities for midwives to return to practice who have left.

“NHS Scotland needs to value its staff and listen when they say they are at breaking point.  Midwives across Scotland tell us they have to keep working harder and harder with less. We know from surveys with midwives who have left the profession that the key reason they leave is because they do not feel they can give the quality of care they want to women and babies due to poor staffing and increasing demand.  We agree with the report’s assessment that staff shortages and high use of temporary staff can affect the quality of care.

“The Scottish Government needs to work to retain the midwives that we have by bringing an end to pay restraint and ensuring good midwifery staffing levels.The Audit Scotland report identifies that there are ambitious policies for changes in the way healthcare is delivered in Scotland and that appropriate funding is required to ensure successful implementation.  The RCM agrees.

“The Scottish Government have set out a radical new maternity strategy for Scotland, published in January 2017. The new strategy signals a shift towards more community based midwifery led services.  This shift cannot be made on a shoe string.   In order to make it possible for midwives and maternity service leaders to implement the ‘Best Start’ policy, the Scottish Government will need to commit significant ring fenced funding.  Too often, the needs of maternity services get lost in the huge melting pot of shared funding, having to compete with other much larger sectors in the NHS.”


*Audit Scotland NHS Workforce Planning, Read full report here: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/report/nhs-workforce-planning


To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/