Deep-seated problems still blighting NHS maternity workforce

on 11 March 2021 Maternity Safety Maternity Services NHS England

Small improvements are not enough to address the deep-seated problems blighting the NHS maternity workforce – and won’t be enough to keep some in the profession. That was the verdict today of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on the latest NHS Staff Survey. The survey shows a majority of midwives are concerned they do not have enough staff, morale in the profession is falling, and many are unhappy about their pay.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “The improvements and progress shown in the survey are welcome, especially in a year dominated by the impact of the pandemic on maternity services and the wider NHS. There are substantial, deep-seated, and worsening problems in many areas. This is particularly apparent around the treatment and experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic staff. These must be tackled and tackled urgently. There is also an increasing and significant majority of midwives unhappy with their level of pay. This is a situation that will only be exacerbated by the Government’s derisory 1% pay proposal for NHS staff last week.”

Discrimination remains a major issue with more than four in 10 midwives (42.1%) saying they had experienced discrimination based on their ethnic background. Over eighty percent of midwives disagreed that there are enough staff for them to do their job properly. Just two worrying statistics among many in the survey.

Gill Walton added: “NHS employers have got to take responsibility and quickly to support their staff because too many midwives, maternity support workers and their colleagues are being failed every day. Even one more hour of someone facing discrimination, bullying, or inadequate staffing levels is unacceptable. These dedicated and hardworking staff who have carried an enormous burden in this pandemic deserve better and they deserve it faster.”


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].  

Notes to editors

The results of the NHS Staff Survey are at

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