Keep maternity staff where they’re needed – in maternity services, says RCM
Midwives and maternity support workers (MSW) must stay in the areas of the NHS where they are most needed: maternity services, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). As COVID cases continue to rise across the country, the RCM has urged NHS leaders not to take maternity staff away from services which are already understaffed and overstretched to backfill other areas of the NHS. In a recent RCM survey of midwives eight out of 10 midwives (83%) said they do not have enough staff to operate a safe service.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:
“Taking skilled maternity staff away from where they’re needed most is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Most midwives are already telling us that they are stretched so thin they worry that they don’t have enough staff to ensure safe services. Maternity services were short-staffed before the pandemic, and now those shortages are being made worse and becoming more widespread as staff are off ill, or self-isolating because of the virus. Midwives and their maternity colleagues are already punch-drunk with exhaustion, with plummeting morale, and reducing their already depleted numbers would be a knockout blow.”
The RCM is calling on UK governments to keep staff where they can do the best. This also applies to the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations. Despite new laws introduced in October allowing midwives to give vaccines, most have not been trained to do so.
Gill Walton added:
“Keeping women safe and well during pregnancy is a priority for midwives. They are qualified to provide some medicines and pain relief for women in labour. However the majority of midwives are not trained to provide vaccinations, and that is why the RCM is concerned at the suggestion that midwives would potentially be used to vaccinate people when COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out. Coupled with the current shortage of midwives across the UK and the additional pressures of the pandemic, the RCM is worried that if midwives are redeployed to other areas of the NHS to administer COVID-19 vaccines this would put even greater strain on maternity services – and the safety of the women in their care.”
Notes to editors
Read the full media release on the recent RCM survey of midwives and their concerns about safety at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/november/fears-for-maternity-as-staffing-shortages-hit-safety-and-morale-says-rcm/.
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/.