Efforts must be redoubled to speed up safety improvements say RCM

on 21 September 2021 NHS Staff Maternity Services Maternity Safety Safety CQC - Care Quality Commission Midwifery Pregnancy Safe high quality care Multi Disciplinary Working Multi-disciplinary care

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed a new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which has called for maternity service improvements to be prioritised to ensure safer care for all mothers and babies.

Leadership and culture must improve immediately according to the CQC report. The RCM says with significant shortages of midwives, which they have already cited as a risk to maternity safety, there is an even greater need to get culture and teamwork right.

Published today, the CQC’s Safety, Equity and Engagement in Maternity Services has analysed key issues persisting in some maternity services and highlights where action is still needed to support vital improvements.

Responding, RCM’s Director for Professional Midwifery, Dr, Mary Ross-Davie said,

“The RCM welcomes this report as it brings together vital recommendations to improve safety in our maternity services. Crucially the report includes the voices and experiences of women and their families. While the report recognises that many maternity services across the UK are providing good care, the RCM is concerned that much more work needs to be done to bolster leadership and improve culture and multidisciplinary working. The RCM remains committed to providing personalised care to women and their families which undoubtedly improves safety and promotes a positive birth experience. However, we also need to be realistic and ensure there are enough midwives to implement this safely. Right now, right across the UK, most services are understaffed, with some shifts barely at 50% capacity. That is why the RCM has called on the Government to ensure we have enough midwives, so women are getting the maternity care they need and deserve.”

The RCM has been supporting its members and maternity services to improve safety and culture and last week published the fourth instalment in its Solution Series Making Maternity Services Safer, nurturing a positive culture. The series includes practical tools to help services and midwifery leaders improve the care they are delivering by addressing the key issues and interim recommendations made in the recent Ockenden review.

The College also says urgent investment is needed so that safer care can be delivered to Black, Asian and minority ethic women particularly since COVID-19 has further highlighted the increased risk these women face during pregnancy. Ethnicity and language barriers need to be considered in all communication and service improvements are urgently needed so women have access to 24/7 translation or interpretation services.

Mary added:

“This report has also flagged issues with leadership in maternity services, an issue the RCM has long raised. 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 and in turn leads to better pregnancy outcomes.”



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


Notes to Editors


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


The Royal College of Midwives (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 www.rcm.org