Stalling maternal mortality figures show need for investment in maternity services says RCM

on 12 July 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Midwife Shortage Maternal Death Scotland Safety

More midwives are needed to support women with complex pregnancies, so they get the best and safest care says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). This comes as new research shows an increased risk of severe sickness and complications in pregnancy associated with issues including increasing maternal age, obesity and having had a previous caesarean section.

The research authors said that the increasing complexity of health care needs during pregnancy means women may need greater levels of care during pregnancy and delivery.

Commenting, Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife at the RCM said: “The skill and dedication of midwives, maternity support workers and their maternity colleagues are driving improvements in safety and care. There is still much to do to keep these efforts moving and in the right direction, but across the UK these are being hampered by Government underinvestment. England’s maternity services are struggling with a serious and longstanding midwifery shortage. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also seeing a build-up of pressures on services and staff.

“All UK governments must ensure that maternity services have the right numbers of staff, with the right training and in the right places to ensure all women get the personalised and tailored care they need and deserve. This includes specialist services and care for more vulnerable women and those with complex pregnancies. Midwives and their colleagues are doing this now, often against the odds. However, they know they can do even better but they need the resources and support to make this happen and doing this better

The research - conducted in Scotland by the University of Edinburgh - will be published in the journal of the Association of Anaesthetists after 11pm on 12 July.


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

Notes to Editors

See the RCM’s safe midwife staffing position statement at rcm-position-statement-safe-midwife-staffing.pdf rcm-position-statement-safe-midwife-staffing.pdf

See also the MBRRACE-UK reports on maternal mortality at MBRRACE-UK: Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK | NPEU (

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