Staffing and funding for maternity bereavement services ‘a scandal’ says the RCM at TUC Congress

on 18 October 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government NHS Staff Bereavement Care Midwifery Workforce Miscarriage NHS Funding Specialist Midwives

Significant and urgent Investment is needed to tackle serious staff shortages and underfunding in maternity service bereavement care. That’s the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in a motion to the TUC Congress tomorrow.

Around 1 in 5 pregnancies result in a miscarriage or stillbirth, yet services and support for bereaved women and families are woefully inadequate says the RCM. Last week the Maternity and Baby Loss All Party Parliamentary Groups echoed this call in a report on maternity and neonatal staffing.

Heather Bower, Professional Advisor at the RCM, and its lead on bereavement care, said: “Maternity staff working in bereavement care are on their knees because there are simply not enough of them. This places massive pressure on midwives and maternity support workers doing their absolute best to support women and families through what is a very difficult and tragic time in their lives."

"Bereavement training for midwives is also extremely poor. A recent survey by Sands found that only 49% of NHS Trusts provided bereavement care training to staff and only 12% of those who did allowed that training to happen during working hours. In addition to poor maternity care, parents can also face discrimination at work around leave after they have experienced a baby loss. These situations are a scandal and must be addressed urgently.”

In its motion the RCM calls for investment in bereavement care and in bereavement training for maternity staff. There is also no statutory maternity, paternity, or parental bereavement leave following a miscarriage that happens in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. However, if a GP or other medical practitioner certifies a miscarriage related sickness absence, this has legal protection. The RCM says this legal protection should be embedded in union agreements with employers.

Ros Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, said: “Maternity Action regularly speaks to women who have struggled to secure the time off they need following a miscarriage.  No woman should be forced to return to work when they are unwell or grieving the loss of their baby. We strongly support the Royal College of Midwives' call for better employment protections for women who experience miscarriage and for greater investment in bereavement services.”


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

Notes to Editor

The RCM has a module on its i-Learn online learning platform for midwives and maternity support workers on bereavement care at The module is behind a paywall and is for RCM members.

Read the Maternity and Baby Loss All Party Parliamentary Group’s report at Staffing shortages - APPG report, Oct 22 (final).pdf (

See also Working to reduce baby loss and improve bereavement care (

See also Midwives unable to complete crucial training further highlights need to address midwife shortage (

See also the National Bereavement Care Pathway which the RCM has been involved in developing at

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