Keep looking after your NHS as it looks after you says RCM as COVID restrictions lifted

on 12 July 2021 Midwives NHS Pregnancy Women Maternity Services Covid-19 Safety

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling for caution, flexibility and understanding from employers and the public once most pandemic related restrictions are removed.  These concerns mirror those from many others in the health sector about easing restrictions, with fears of a return to the worst days of the pandemic which threatened to overwhelm the NHS.

This comes as the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid today announced that most legal restrictions on social contact will be removed making the country mostly COVID-19 restriction free from 19 July.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “I urge the public to think of our NHS and to continue doing all they can to keep COVID-19 transmission rates as low as possible, such as wearing masks on crowded public transport, maintaining social distance if possible and to keep using the COVID app to support testing and tracing. Our maternity services and the wider NHS are still facing massive and increasing pressures, as rates of the new variant of the virus are rising. We have significant staff shortages that were there before the pandemic. These have been made much worse as many staff are off sick or self-isolating because of COVID-19, adding to the demands on staff and the service.

“We also need employers to be flexible and understanding to allow maternity staff and their NHS colleagues to work ​more flexibly, such as away from direct contact with service users or from home if at all possible.  This will help to reduce unnecessary journeys and the possibility of passing on or catching the infection on public transport and in workplaces This is particularly important for pregnant women, many of whom have not yet had both vaccinations.” 

A poll published today by the NHS Confederation showed that almost 90 per cent of its members want the public to continue wearing masks in all health care settings. The RCM is also urging NHS staff to keep testing themselves for COVID-19 even if they are asymptomatic, along with maintaining good infection prevention and control, as outlined in guidance published by NHS England and Improvement today.

Gill Walton added, “I appeal for understanding and flexibility from the public around this, especially when in hospitals or in NHS building, where there will be sick people, often with reduced abilities to fight infections. I urge you to think of them when deciding whether to wear a mask or not, or squeeze into an already crowded lift. This is still a dangerous disease, and it is still killing people and making many seriously ill. We are in this together and we need to take care of each other. Our NHS needs you to take care of it, as it takes care of you.”


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

Notes to editor

For information and guidance around COVID-19 guidance for pregnant women, their families, and maternity staff, visit the RCM’s COVID Hub at Coronavirus - 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.