Effective and inclusive leadership a key factor in improving safety, says RCM

on 11 June 2021 Maternity Safety Leadership Maternity Services Maternity Safety Champions Midwifery Midwives NHS Safety Safe high quality care Director For Midwifery

Effective and inclusive leadership is a key factor in improving safety in maternity services. That’s the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it launches the second instalment in its new Solution Series. The interim Ockenden Review, published earlier this year, and other reviews of failed maternity services often identify a failure in leadership or poor leadership.

In Making maternity services safer: the role of leadership; the RCM offers a practical self-checklist that can be used by RCM members to reflect on whether their own service and team have the right context, capacity, and capabilities to lead the maternity service effectively. 

Commenting; Dr Mary Ross-Davie, the RCM’s Director for Professional Midwifery, said:

“We know that to create a culture of positive and effective leadership leaders need the right context, capacity and capability to undertake the role. Midwifery leaders don’t fail on their own – effective leadership is a shared endeavour across the NHS.  Midwifery leaders need the right level of influence, resources, staffing, team support and guidance to be effective. Failed leadership is often a failure of teamwork. If we get this right, we know that high quality leadership is associated with increased staff satisfaction and retention and leads to improved team performance Our new publication aims to highlight some of the evidence and thinking around positive impactful leadership in healthcare and distil it into a practical resource for midwives and all maternity staff.

“Good leadership is really a two-way relationship. Leaders need the support of those they lead to implement and sustain positive change and clinical staff need the support of their leaders to ensure they are adequately staffed, resourced and educated to provide safe high quality care.”

In 2019 the RCM launched ‘Strengthening Midwifery Leadership: a manifesto for better care’. At its core, this manifesto calls for a Director of Midwifery in every trust and health board with maternity services. More Heads of Midwifery, consultant midwives and specialist midwives are also needed across the service to shape strategic direction and safety improvements in maternity services.

Mary added:

“We need a stronger midwifery leadership voice in every part of the NHS that delivers maternity services. Heads of Midwifery will typically focus on the operational delivery of maternity care locally. They will often report into a Director of Nursing within a trust or health board and will not have direct input into or responsibility for strategic, board-level decision-making. This can be problematic where midwifery leaders locally do not have direct access to the board, and we are calling for this to change to improve Board level understanding of maternity issues.”


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

Notes to Editors:

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.