‘RCM launches its manifesto for the 2019 UK General Election’
Today the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has launched its General Election manifesto setting out five key asks they hope to see from the next Parliament in order to improve UK maternity services.
RCM priorities for the next Parliament include;
1. Help our student midwives to make ends meet
Three-quarters of student midwives are now being supported financially by friends and family and since the removal of the bursary in 2017 student midwives are grappling with huge amounts of debt.
This is having a predictable impact on the number of people wanting to train to become a midwife and on the decisions of those struggling with the financial pressures of life as a student midwife. The RCM wants the Government to learn from what has happened and provide better financial support for those in training.
2. Review the resources that maternity services get
The RCM estimates that maternity services in England are now short 2,500 midwives.
Despite training more than 2,000 midwives every year, the NHS midwifery workforce is at a virtual standstill, growing by just 33 in the last year. The RCM is calling for a root and branch review of what’s needed and a plan to deliver on it.
3. Champion midwifery leadership
Championing midwifery leadership the RCM’s says is a vital part of delivering safe high-quality maternity care and to do that effectively the RCM says a Director of Midwifery in every trust and a head of midwifery in ever unit is needed. The RCM says more specialist midwives are needed too. Digital midwives, for example, can help the NHS harness the power of technology to release midwives to have more time to care for women. This ask includes the need to champion midwifery education and research through strengthening midwifery leadership in our universities.
4. Give the people the final say on Brexit.
On Brexit the RCM believes the people must have the final say. Over 1,300 midwives are from elsewhere in the EU work in the NHS in England, providing care for tens of thousands of women every year to lose them would be detrimental to NHS maternity services.
5. Improve maternal mental health care
One in five* women using maternity services are affected by maternal mental health problems yet there are not enough specialist midwives to care for them.
A UK wide RCM survey of heads of midwifery this year found over one third maternity services do not employ any specialist maternal mental health midwives.
The RCM is calling for all NHS trusts in England to employ maternal mental health specialist midwives so women can get the support they need.
Commenting, Gill Walton Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCM said;
“The priorities laid out in the RCM’s manifesto are straightforward and informed by our own research and what our members are telling us is desperately needed to improve the maternity services they deliver for women and their families.
“We need to be doing all we can to make midwifery a more attractive career, but the reality is three-quarters of the current cohort of student midwives are being financially supported by friends and family and this is unsustainable. That is why the RCM calling for a review of financial support for student midwives, with a commitment to increase that support. Student midwives deserve it, and if we do not do this, we could soon be struggling to find the extra midwives the NHS desperately needs.
“Our maternity services are short of thousands of midwives, in England alone we are 2,500 midwives short. Despite training more than 2,000 midwives every year, the NHS midwifery workforce is at a virtual standstill, growing by just 33 in the last year.
“On Brexit the RCM supported remaining in the EU during the referendum campaign three years and a half years ago and more recently we have supported the idea that the people should have the final say in a referendum on any Brexit deal. Midwives from the EU staffing UK maternity services make a very valuable contribution to our services and we need to attract more not less and leaving the EU jeopardises this and its also means less money for the NHS, including maternity services.
“The RCM is calling for all NHS trusts in England to employ maternal mental health specialist midwives. Maternal mental health problems affect up to one in five women and if not detected early and treated these problems can have significant, long-term effects on the woman. That is why specialist midwives are so vital as they have the skills and experience to identify women in need of specialist care and help them before their condition worsens.
“With 650,000 babies are born in England alone last year we look forward to receiving responses from all the parliamentary candidates to these asks. We hope that they recognise the importance of having safe and well-resourced maternity services that are future proofed with the right people in the right places to enable midwives to deliver high quality safe care to women and their families.
“We also look forward to working with the next Government to improve UK maternity services over the coming years.”
Read the RCMs Midwife Manifesto in full here https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3669/rcm-uk-manifesto-a4.pdf
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].
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/.