RCM calls for urgent start on new Northern Ireland maternity strategy

on 23 November 2022 RCM Maternity Services MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government Maternal Mental health Midwifery Workforce Northern Ireland RCM Northern Ireland Women's Choice Women Wellbeing Of Women Maternity Safety

Work needs to start on a new maternity strategy for Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). The call comes in an RCM motion to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Branch Delegate Conference in Enniskillen today.

The previous maternity strategy ran from 2014 to 2018 and did deliver some much-needed improvements in maternity care. Much of this was done by hardworking midwives and maternity support workers with little or no additional investment. It also left important and critical areas such as maternal mental health services still needing additional support and investment says the RCM.

Karen Murray, Director for Northern Ireland at the RCM, said: “We published the RCM’s Blueprint for safer and better care for Northern Ireland’s maternity services earlier this year. This laid out what needs to be done by our politicians to improve the safety and quality of care, but it has been ignored. There is much that must be done to improve our maternity services for women, babies, and their families, but the silence on this from politicians is deafening. There is a gaping hole where a strategy should be and it is needed now, and urgently, to take our service forward and make it fit for the future for women, and for maternity staff.

“We have growing midwife shortages and increasing pressure on services, and they are beginning to creak.  We need a coherent maternity strategy that will address this and reverse the situation. The challenge now is to ensure that whatever policy is developed is fit for purpose, delivers the safest and highest quality care, and is backed by the right levels of investment in Northern Ireland’s midwives and maternity services.

The RCM motion calls for investment and more resources in several key areas. These include getting the right workforce in place in the right numbers, backed by resources and funding. It must also recognise the increasing health and social complexity of women using the services and ensuring their needs are met. Women must also have real choices about their care such a where they give birth. Crucially any strategy must also learn from recent high-profile reports on failings in some maternity services in the UK to prevent similar failings in Northern Ireland.

Karen Murray added, “If we get care right at the beginning of life, we are in a much better position to impact positively on the health of future generations. I repeat yet again our call for a maternity strategy for Northern Ireland. Without one, women, babies and families are not getting the quality and level of care they not only need but deserve. There have been years of delay and inaction already and the time to act on this is right now.”


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

Notes to Editors:

See also RCM makes the case for a new maternity strategy for Northern Ireland.

See also Get behind our plans to deliver better maternity care for Northern Ireland’s women RCM urges politicians.

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.