Better pregnancy mental health care, stopping NHS migrant charging and concerns over no deal Brexit in RCM motions to TUC Congress

on 06 September 2019 Brexit Trade Unions TUC Perinatal Mental Health NHS NHS Funding

At this week’s TUC Congress the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling for better perinatal mental health care and to suspend NHS charging for migrant women. 

Almost a quarter of maternal deaths are linked to mental health related causes says the RCM in one of its three motions.  It also highlights that mental health problems affect up to 20% of women during pregnancy and postnatally. Mental health issues associated with pregnancy also affect the father says the RCM. Up to forty percent of fathers report having concerns about their own mental health.

In its motion the RCM argues that specialist services for women affected with perinatal mental health problems are often variable and sometimes non-existent.  Added to this there is a shortage of specialist perinatal mental health midwives.  Calling for increased investment in this area the RCM says that inaction over this is costing the NHS£1.2bn a year.

A suspension of NHS charging for pregnant migrants is the focus of the RCM’s second motion to the TUC Congress. These women are at greater risk of poor maternal health outcomes, including maternal deaths, and premature birth. The RCM argues that charging for maternity care reduces the likelihood of vulnerable migrant women receiving care.  The impact of this could be very serious and adversely affect the health of women and their baby.

In a joint motion with other organisations the RCM is stressing the negative impact on the NHS of a no deal Brexit. New immigration hurdles would deter EU healthcare professionals from coming to work in the UK. The RCM is also concerned a no deal Brexit would open up the NHS to a trade deal with US health corporations. The motion calls for a general election as a matter of urgency.  

The RCM is also seconding a motion from Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) on NHS and workforce funding. This covers issues such as cuts to public health budgets impacting on services including stopping smoking services and breastfeeding support. Other cuts are hitting ongoing training for midwives and other |NHS staff.

The RCM calls on the Government to also ensure we fund efforts to retain experienced midwives. At the same time says the RCM efforts are needed to ensure that the promise increase in student midwife numbers translates into extra midwives in our NHS. England is currently around almost 2500 full time midwives short of the numbers needed.

Commenting on the RCM Motions, Jon Skewes, Executive Director for External Relations at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These motions hit on some of the critical issues facing our maternity and wider health services and their staff.

“Perinatal mental health has long been underfunded and we need to see this change. This and the Government’s aggressive pursuit of very vulnerable women to pay are having an impact on the health and wellbeing of women and their babies. Indeed the affects of not addressing these issues could, quite literally, be fatal.”

The RCM motion on Brexit is set to be debated on set to be debated on Sunday 8th September. The RCM motions on perinatal mental health and NHS charging should be debated on the afternoon of Monday, 9th September, along with the CSP motion on NHS workforce and funding.

The TUC Congress is running from 8th-11th September 2109 at The Brighton Centre. For more information see The TUC Congress can be watched live at


To contact the RCM Media Office 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