Midwives in England and Wales to be balloted on industrial action

on 22 September 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwives Government Pay NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change Industrial Action RCM Member RCM Wales NHS NHS Wales NHS Staff NHS England NHS Funding NHS Unions

Midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) working in the NHS in England and Wales are set to be balloted on industrial action. The move was announced by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) at its annual Activists Conference in Warwick today following a consultation with members in both countries.

A month-long consultation saw members overwhelmingly reject their governments’ below-inflation 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.

The RCM will be announcing the dates of the ballots in each country in the coming weeks.

As the announcement was made today the RCM sought to reassure both maternity staff and women and families using maternity services that midwives and maternity support workers (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, they will not ask members 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.

Dr Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director, Trade Union, at the RCM, said: “Our members have spoken and just like us they believe a below inflation pay award is not good enough, they deserve more. The results and turnout speaks volumes about the feelings off a fragile, exhausted, and undervalued workforce, because taking industrial action is always the very, last resort for midwives and maternity staff. They obviously now see no other alternative to getting a fair and just pay award from their governments.

“Our members - along with many other workers across the UK - are sending a very, very clear message to the Government and one that must not be ignored any longer. Governments must step in to stop midwives and other staff from leaving the NHS, particularly at time of staffing crisis when maternity services in England alone are short of over 2,000 midwives. One of the ways to do that is by offering these dedicated and committed professionals the inflation-busting pay rise they and their colleagues deserve. Not just for their incredible efforts but also because it is the right thing to do to protect them from the ravages of rapidly rising prices and inflation.

“This is a sign of just how battered and bruised the maternity workforce is, facing unprecedented demands with too few staff and pay falling way behind the soaring cost of living. THE RCM say they previously warned NHS leaders and Governments in England and Wales that staff where at breaking point and a below inflation pay award would see its members heading for the door.”

A survey of NHS staff in June showed that four out of five (80%) would quit the NHS over concerns about their pay. An RCM survey last year showed over half of midwives (57%) said they were considering leaving the NHS, with fears about the quality of care they were able to give as the main reason.

Dr Tyler added: “We have a new political leadership for the UK and a Prime Minister who said that she will ‘deliver on the National Health Service.’ This is her chance to start delivering, because the NHS is nothing without its staff and they are leaving in droves. I encourage her and her colleagues to adopt a new perspective on this issue. Value your NHS staff and show them you really care by giving them the pay award they richly deserve and should rightly expect.

The RCM has already announced the dates of a formal ballot of its members over pay in Scotland where the Government has offered a 5% pay increase. The RCM’s ballot in Scotland starts on 29 September and runs until 27 October.


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

Notes to Editor



For more information and updates see the RCM’s pay campaign section of the website at Pay Hub - RCM.


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