Not sustainable to rely on bank midwives to fill vacancies in Northern Ireland says RCM

By Not sustainable to rely on bank midwives to fill vacancies in Northern Ireland says RCM GBS - Group B Strep Midwifery Midwifery Workforce Midwifery Training Places Midwifery and nursing degree Midwifery Supervision Midwifery Continuity of Carer - MCOC Director For Northern Ireland Northern Ireland RCM Northern Ireland

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has said today it’s not surprised that midwifery vacancies have tripled in Northern Ireland over the past six years. The trade union and professional body that represents midwives in Northern Ireland say they have been warning of midwifery shortages for several years.

The figures have been revealed in a report, Workforce Planning for Nurses and Midwives, published today by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.


Commenting, Karen Murray, RCM Director for Northern Ireland, said:

“The RCM has long been raising concerns about the midwife vacancy rate. Maternity services across Northern Ireland are under pressure due to vacant midwifery posts, and that is even before you include the number of sickness absences or midwives who may be on maternity leave. In addition, we have the added pressure of COVID-19, where some staff are having to isolate or shield. We must have enough midwives in the system to ensure that we can deliver safe, high quality care to women and their babies. That means investing in training for new midwives to counteract the exodus of midwives who have retired over that past few years.”


Karen added:

“Although some of those retired midwives have continued to support the workforce over the past few years to plug the gaps, it’s not sustainable. Nor can we rely on bank midwives to cover rotas, as most midwives covering bank shifts are already working within the same service and are doing additional shifts over and above their contracted hours. This is simply kicking the can down the round – and adding to burnout in the existing workforce.  As well as bringing new midwives in, we must look after the ones we have. We are working with employers in Northern Ireland to ensure that the health and well-being of those working in maternity care is a priority.”




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


Notes to Editors

Workforce planning for nurses and midwives’ examines the nursing and midwifery workforce within both the Health and Social Care (HSC) and independent care sectors. It reviews whether the workforce is capable of dealing with future challenges and increasing demands on services.


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