Best Start needs resources and staffing says RCM on Scottish Parliament debate on maternity

on 08 May 2019 Midwives Maternity Services Scottish Government

A Scottish Parliamentary debate today focused on the Best Start programme, the Scottish Government’s plan for maternity services.

Commenting on the debate Dr Mary Ross-Davie, Director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “This debate highlights the great work that midwives and other members of the maternity team do every day to support families across Scotland.  It also highlights the need to continue to invest in maternity services and midwives.

“The Scottish Government has set out a radical vision for maternity services.

Such a huge change requires significant ongoing investment and careful implementation.  We recognise the positive start made with the commitment of £12 million for implementation made by the Government. We also recognise the year on year increase in student midwife places, the continuation of the student bursary and the new safe staffing legislation. This will all contribute to ensuring that we have enough midwives and maternity support workers to provide safe care.

“The Best Start Review recommends a huge shift in how and where maternity and neonatal services are delivered. The RCM has argued that in order for the changes to be safe, successful and sustainable midwives will need time, training and support to feel confident to work in different ways. 

“Health boards will need, at least temporarily, to increase the number of midwives in the system.  We will also need to keep a close eye on what the staffing requirements are in a new continuity based system in the longer term – this is the woman seeing the same midwife or small group of midwives throughout and after her pregnancy. We know that hospitals will continue to need to have experienced core staffing to be available at all times, in addition to the community based continuity team midwives. 

“It is also vital that through this implementation process the Government and health boards value, support and listen to their midwives.  Midwives need to have patterns of working that enable them to have a good work life balance, they need to have workloads that enable them to provide high quality care and any changes need to be shaped by the midwives themselves.  Not all midwives wish or are able to work in this different way and their contribution needs to continue to be valued.

“The RCM is working locally and nationally across Scotland to ensure that the needs, views and rights of midwives are part of this change process.  We will continue to argue for appropriate investment, realistic timescales and a clear outline of the scope of the changes.

“We know from surveys that women and families across Scotland are generally very positive about the care they receive from midwives and others in the maternity services in Scotland. The Scottish Government and health boards need to provide staff with the resources, staffing, time and training to continually raise the standard of care they are able to provide. The RCM will be monitoring this and will support the Scottish Government and health boards in their efforts to achieve this. But we will also hold them to account if they do not give our maternity services the resources they need.”

To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]


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