RCM urges midwives to vote yes to industrial action as England and Wales pay ballot opens

on 11 November 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government NHS Staff Midwifery Workforce NHS Funding Maternity Safety Women MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay and Agenda For Change

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today launched only its second ballot on industrial action in England and its first in Wales in its142 year history. The College, which represents most midwives and also maternity support workers (MSWs) in the UK, is calling on its members to vote yes to industrial action over pay.

The RCM’s 30,000 eligible members working in the NHS in England and Wales will be asked two questions: whether they are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike, and whether they are prepared to take strike action. The postal ballot is due to close at midday on 12 December.

The move comes after a consultation which saw RCM members overwhelmingly reject the Westminster and Wales Governments’ below-inflation 4% pay award. Two-thirds of eligible members in England and more than eight out of 10 in Wales took part in the consultation, with three-quarters (75%) saying they wanted to be balloted on industrial action.

Commenting, the RCM’s Executive Director Trade Union, Dr Suzanne Tyler, said: Midwives and MSWs have been pushed to the brink, with this latest pay award being the last straw for many. It clearly shows that governments do not value the skills, dedication, and incredible commitment of midwives and MSWs. It also shows that they either don’t understand or simply don’t care about the financial pressures facing our members and their NHS colleagues. It is scandalous and shameful that in one of the world’s richest countries we have highly trained professionals having to use food banks to feed their families and think hard about whether they turn the heating on. The decision to take industrial action will not be one midwives and MSWs take lightly. But they clearly feel they have no other recourse than this.”

The RCM has reassured both maternity staff and women and families using maternity services that midwives and MSWs will not take any type of action that would put women or babies at risk. The College says that, should its members vote for industrial action, members will not be asked to break their NMC code of conduct and safe services will be maintained. During previous strike action in 2014 ensuring the delivery of safe services remained paramount.

Suzanne Tyler added: “This is not just about pay: it is about the care NHS staff are able to deliver. There is a massive and worsening shortage of midwives, rising vacancy rates in England and growing staffing pressures in Wales. Our own members told us last year that more than half of midwives were thinking of leaving the NHS: now that thought is becoming reality. The Governments in Wales and Westminster must do far more to retain staff and bring others into the NHS and making a meaningful pay offer and an urgent retention package is a good place to start. Investing in NHS pay is an investment in staff and an investment in better care for women, babies, and families.”

RCM members in Scotland have already voted in overwhelming numbers to take industrial action. In a turnout of 61% of eligible voters over 88% voted yes to taking industrial action consisting of a strike. On the question are you prepared to take industrial action short of a strike, 94.6% voted yes.


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

The RCM consultation of its members in Northern Ireland on pay closed on 10 November. The results of the consultation will be announced on 16 November.

Midwives in England and Wales to be balloted on industrial action (rcm.org.uk)

RCM FAQ'S on industrial action in England and Wales.

RCM launches consultation with members to gauge appetite for industrial action over pay.

Below inflation pay award ‘unacceptable’ says RCM.

Scotland’s midwives vote yes to industrial action over pay (rcm.org.uk)

RCM warns of midwife exodus as maternity staffing crisis grows.

Midwife numbers drop by 600 in the year since minister admitted England was 2000 midwives short (rcm.org.uk).

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Government must act now and invest in England’s NHS maternity services and staff says the RCM as ‘crisis’ looms.

Four out of five NHS staff say pay is main reason they would quit their jobs (rcm.org.uk).

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