Positive to see more midwives on the register, but need to future proof workforce says RCM

on 09 July 2020 Midwives RCM Midwifery Maternity Services Covid-19 Midwifery Workforce NHS Funding NHS Staff NMC - Nursing and Midwifery Council

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is encouraged by the increase in registered midwife numbers, but has cautioned that the UK must work harder to recruit and retain midwives to future-proof NHS maternity services. This comes as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announces a small increase in midwives on its register, but a fall in midwives from the European Economic Area (EEA).

Commenting, Executive Director for Professional Leadership at the RCM Birte Harlev-Lam said:

“Our midwifery education is world-leading and a measure of excellence across the globe, and our graduates and new entrants to the Register are a testament to that. However, we still do not have enough midwives to cope with demand. We know that reliance on homegrown talent isn’t enough, and that we have always looked to Europe to build our capacity. Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit has undoubtedly caused a steep decline in midwives coming to the UK from countries in the EEA. While nursing shortages can be reduced by recruiting excellent nurses from countries such as India and the Philippines, this isn’t a solution for midwifery shortages in the UK.”

The report shows increases in the number of midwives on the register across all four UK countries, with Wales showing the largest rise and Northern Ireland and Scotland the smallest.

Birte added:

“We are delighted to see more midwives join the register, but we are concerned that many will not get jobs quickly enough in our already understaffed maternity services. Also, given how the current crisis has impacted on maternity services and staff morale, the NHS has much work to do to ensure the retention of experienced midwives on the register and in employment.”


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

The NMC annual registration data report for 2019-20 can be viewed at www.nmc.org.uk/registration-data. The link to the report will be live from Thursday 9 July 2020.

The NHS in England is short of over 2,000 midwives, according to the latest estimate from the 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/.