Gap between ambition and reality on the ground says RCM on NHS Long Term Plan

on 07 January 2019 NHS England

Today the Government has published its Long Term Plan for the NHS in England. Commenting on the NHS Long Term Plan, Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is very encouraging to see maternity front and centre of this plan. There is much in the plan to welcome such as the commitment to reduce health inequalities, the renewed commitment to the Maternity Transformation Plan, and the pledge of a job guarantee for midwives after they qualify.

“Also very welcome is the announcement of the first Chief Midwifery Officer. This is an ambitious plan and good leadership will be needed to implement it, in midwifery and in other health professions.

“However there is right now a gap between the ambitions for our maternity services and the reality on the ground. This plan adds yet more aspirations but we need to know how the Government will bridge this gap and give us the services they have promised.

“The issue of funding services also rears its head. There are some commitments in the plan to postnatal care yet this is an area that has long been underfunded. Key elements of the plan also talk about prevention of poor health such as reducing the numbers of people smoking. But we are seeing budgets for public health services such as smoking cessation cut.

“It is therefore vitally important that sufficient funding is made available and that we have the right numbers of midwives and other staff in place. It is not just about a shortage of midwives, but also a shortage of other health professionals which can impact on midwives.  The whole system has to be staffed adequately otherwise the system falls down.

“What is now important is seeing the details of how this will be translated for people where they live through local maternity plans. For example we would want to see how the plan’s commitments to improve perinatal mental health actually look when the services are delivered, such as ensuring every trust has a specialist perinatal mental health midwife.

“It is an ambitious plan and we look forward to working with the Government and other health organisations to make it a reality.”


Note 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