‘Improvements needed in NHS job evaluation for Maternity Support Workers’ says RCM

By ‘Improvements needed in NHS job evaluation for Maternity Support Workers’ says RCM on 29 November 2019 NHS England England NHS NHS Staff MSWs - Maternity Support Workers MSW Week MSW advocates Pay and Agenda For Change

This week the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is celebrating and highlighting the role of maternity support workers (MSWs) in NHS maternity services.

As part of the focus on MSWs and the work that they do the RCM has today published results of a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) which has revealed some MSWs are working at a higher level than they are paid to do.

The RCM’s FOI asked health trusts and boards across the UK to provide their MSW job descriptions and accompanying job matching information. This was to establish whether the job evaluation process was being carried out.

The worst practice unearthed by the FOI was at the very lowest paid, band 2. In England 57% of NHS trusts were unable to provide the job matching information with the job descriptions. Some of the job descriptions were over ten years old.

The role of the MSW is to support midwives in their practice, but MSW job descriptions received through the FOI include tasks such as feeding new-borns through their nose, known as nasogastric feeding, and observations on new-born babies. The RCM’s concern is that some MSW job descriptions are not requiring them to have the qualifications needed to do those tasks.

This failure by some NHS trusts and health boards is putting enormous pressure on MSWs and puts them in incredibly stressful situations that they should not have to face.

The results of the FOI come during MSW Week running from 25th November to 1st December 2019. The week celebrates the contribution of MSWs to maternity care for women, babies and their families.

Along with midwives, nurses and many other NHS staff, MSWs work under the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) grading and pay system. This is underpinned by the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) which ensures equal pay for work of equal value.  Under this scheme pay bands are assigned to jobs by matching it to a job profile that has previously been job evaluated.   MSWs sit on AfC pay bands 2 to 4. Band 2 is the lowest pay band on AfC. Band 4 is the highest level that MSWs work on.

Commenting, Gill Walton Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The system that is designed to ensure equality of pay for the work done is often not being used. Too many employers are failing our dedicated and hard-working MSWs by not applying the robustness of the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme to their jobs. This puts many in a terrible situation.

“Our MSW members have been telling us about inappropriate banding and as these results show many employers are not doing what they should be to protect MSWs and ensure they are doing the right tasks for their training and skill level. This is not acceptable, and employers must stop putting their staff in such a difficult position.

“The RCM is working hard to solve this problem at local level. We will also be taking our concerns to the Government, NHS organisations and as we are already doing, directly to employers, to tackle this without delay.”

For more information and the full results from the FOI including responses broken down by countryhttps://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3645/j12757-rcm-social-msw-freedom-of-info-analysis-infographic-a5-v2-01.jpg


To contact the RCM Media Office and for MSW case studies 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/.