Maternity services at risk without improvements in support and reward for staff, according to new report

on 30 March 2021 Maternity Services NHS Funding Funding NHS NHS England Maternity Safety MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwives Pay Pay and Agenda For Change NHS Staff Staffing Levels

Exhausted and demoralised staff may spark an exodus from the NHS unless the Government does more on support and reward. These are the stark findings of a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), supported by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), released today.

According to the report one in four healthcare workers say they are more likely to leave the NHS due to a year of unprecedented pressure. This figure includes 8,000 midwives who may leave the NHS and comes at a time when England is already 3,000 midwives short.

Sean O’Sullivan, the RCM’s Head of Health & Social Policy, said: “We are only just beginning to understand the impact this past year had had on the mental and physical health of NHS staff, including midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs). While we’ve been encouraged by some measures put in to support staff wellbeing through the pandemic, it’s clear from this report that it is barely scratching the surface. Add to this the Government’s derisory 1% pay offer and it’s easy to see why staff are questioning their future in the NHS. We are running the risk of seeing hundreds of thousands of these incredible professionals walking out of our NHS doors and not coming back.

“The significant additional funding for NHS maternity announced last week will help to address some of the challenges faced by staff, particularly the commitment to an additional 1,000 staff and improved access to training. However, that does not and cannot distract from the experience of staff here and now. We need to see change from governments and employers so that we still have the staff in place to benefit from that funding.”

In its report, called Recover, Reward, Renew, the IPPR calls on the Government to recognise the contributions of NHS staff, allow them to recover and to reward them for their work throughout the pandemic and reflects the public’s call for a five per cent average pay award.  

Sean O’Sullivan added, “Maternity staff have been at the frontline of care. We now need to put them at the front of the line for an early and substantial pay award, and to support them to recover from the incredible exertions of the past year. This welcome and important report makes many positive recommendations which the RCM supports and urges the Government and NHS employers to implement. Midwives, MSWs and their NHS colleagues deserve nothing less.” 


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

Notes to editors

The IPPR paper, Recover, Reward, Renew by IPPR, will be published at 18.30 on Tuesday 30 March. It will be available for download 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