‘NHS remains reliant on the goodwill of midwives to keep maternity services afloat says RCM’

By RCM on 07 March 2017 NHS Survey NHS Staff Midwives Stress Staffing Levels Pay and Agenda For Change

423,000 NHS staff responded anonymously to the survey and some staff reported ‘small but measurable improvements’ according to NHS employers.

However the survey also revealed some worrying findings:

  • 59% of staff reported working unpaid overtime each week
  • 60% of staff have come into work in the last 3 months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties
  • 38% of staff reported that they were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with their pay
  • 20% of staff reported they were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with opportunities to work flexibly

Commenting Jon Skewes RCM’s Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications said; “While the results of this survey show there have been some small improvements, if you dig a little deeper it’s clear that fundamentally organisations are relying on the goodwill of midwives, maternity support workers and other NHS staff to plug the gaps in our national health service. This is leading to high levels of stress, burn out and the growing levels of disillusionment and dissatisfaction are causing midwives to leave midwifery

“At the RCM we hear from our members about the enormous pressures they’re under due to understaffing. They tell us about their frustrations and fears about delivering a high quality safe maternity service with inadequate levels of staffing. England currently remains short of 3,500 midwives so cannot afford to have midwives leave the service because they are not valued.

“The RCM recently conducted a survey of 2,719 midwives who have left midwifery in the last two years or are planning to leave midwifery in the next two years about the reasons for leaving midwifery. The most common reasons that midwives give for leaving is staffing levels and workload indicating that maternity services are in a catch-22 situation with many midwives leaving midwifery because of understaffing which further exacerbates staffing levels. Crucially, 80% of midwives said they would stay in midwifery if their pay increased.

“Midwives and other NHS staff have faced six years of pay restraint which has had a devastating impact on their pay. In 2016, the value of pay for a midwife at the top of band six has decreased by over £6,000 since 2010. This will increase to a difference of £9,000 if pay restraint continues to 2020 as the Government intend. The NHS is running on the goodwill of staff and face critical staffing shortages across many professional groups, including midwives. This cannot continue, NHS staff must be given a fair pay rise.

“This survey shows that the NHS is facing unprecedented challenge and every member of staff is doing their best to provide high quality and safe care, the NHS must not take this for granted. They need to look below the surface of these results and see that now is the time to show NHS staff they are valued.”


The 2016 NHS Staff Survey, which is published by is available from today (7 March 2017) and is available to view here: http://www.nhsstaffsurveys.com/Page/1006/Latest-Results/2016-Results/


To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.

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/.