RCM calls for Government support to get maternity ready for business

on 28 April 2020 Midwives RCM Maternity Services NHS Staff Midwifery NHS Midwife Shortage Midwifery Workforce Leadership Covid-19

As the Government announces plans to restart and re-open discrete areas of the NHS, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has raised concerns about capacity in maternity to get services operating fully again. A survey of senior midwives across the UK, carried out by the RCM, found that closures of midwifery-led units have increased since last month, from 22 per cent in March to 29 per cent. Homebirth services have been affected, with four in 10 senior midwives stating that they have had to suspend services, up from almost a third last month.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said:

“Senior midwives have shown huge resilience in adapting and reorganising services to keep them running. This has been a huge challenge with the loss of bed spaces and staff shortages. Despite the immense pressures they and their staff have done an amazing job to keep women and their babies safe and the quality of care high.

“It is now time to start planning and moving towards normalising services. This means getting requisitioned and closed midwife units ready to be used again. The lack of testing also is fuelling a serious midwife shortage and we need a rapid scaling-up of testing to combat this. Around a fifth of midwife roles are unstaffed and much of this is because of the virus. This is putting pressure on already hard-pressed services, and extra weight on the shoulders of hard-working maternity teams.”

In a speech today (28 April) to the TUC, Gill Walton will urge the Government and employers to do more to protect healthcare workers. She will praise the hard work and determination of midwives and maternity support workers to continue to deliver care.


To contact the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].

Note to editors

The survey was conducted by the Royal College of Midwives and was open to answers from 22 to 27 April 2020. In total, 64 heads or directors of midwifery replied. Responses were received from every region of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The survey of heads and directors of midwifery published today shows just under a third (29 per cent) of respondents saying their MLUs are closed. This is up from 22 per cent previously. A significant number (15 per cent) say they closed MLUs due to requisitioning for COVID-9 patients.

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/.