Funding and staffing must underpin Government’s women’s health strategy says RCM

on 20 July 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Midwife Shortage Perinatal Mental Health MSWs - Maternity Support Workers England

We must see more investment in NHS maternity services and their staff to support improvements to women’s health and to put their care and needs front and centre says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). This comes as the Government’s first women’s health strategy is published today.

The strategy promises improvements for parents suffering the loss of their baby. There will also be a Maternity Disparities Taskforce to tackle disparities in outcomes and experiences for women from ethnic minorities and those living in the most deprived areas, and improvements in perinatal mental health support.

Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife at the RCM said: “We need to see the detail and the strategy itself but the commitment to improve care for women from ethnic minority backgrounds and more vulnerable women is welcome. However, we need to see investment right through pregnancy and beyond to really make a difference to them and all women, and to the safety and quality of their care. This requires a major step change in funding for maternity services and staff. England continues to suffer from a chronic and longstanding midwifery shortage and is over 2000 midwives short of the numbers needed, and a situation worsening month by month. Many are simply choosing to leave the profession as they buckle under the strain, and as their pay lags way behind the soaring cost of living. Strategies are great but they are nothing without the right staff, with the right training and in the right places to deliver them.”

“Services for those who have suffered the loss of their baby are also massively understaffed and underfunded, with a serious lack of specialist midwives and support. Just last week the Bereavement Midwives Forum laid out to politicians just how dire the situation is. These specialist midwives are overwhelmed by the pressures they are facing, and morale is at a nadir. They simply cannot deliver the services and support women who have suffered the tragedy of baby loss need and deserve.”

The strategy also announces the formation of a Menopause Taskforce.

Birte Harlev-Lam added, “There is often a profound misunderstanding about the impact of the menopause on women in the workplace, and very often a lack of support for those going through it. The impact of this can be serious. This includes the NHS where the vast majority of midwives and maternity support workers are women. Governments and employers must step up and change this. The taskforce must get its work done quickly and recommend positive and concrete actions that will really make a difference to these women’s lives.”


The Women’s Health Strategy can be read at

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

See the RCM Safe Midwife Staffing Position Statement at rcm-position-statement-safe-midwife-staffing.pdf.

See also the RCM’s menopause guidance at equality_diversity_publication_working_with_menopause.pdf (

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 | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.