This is ‘at best foolish and at worst negligent’ says RCM responding to reports of a speech by the Health Secretary  

on 01 September 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Midwife Shortage MSWs - Maternity Support Workers England Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government Maternity Safety

Responding to the Health Secretary’s speech to Policy Exchange, as reported in this morning’s Times, Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director Midwife at the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“To suggest that maternity services should be deprioritised by the NHS at a time when countless reports have referenced a lack of Government investment and attention is at best foolish and at worst negligent." Up and down the country, midwives, maternity support workers and other maternity staff are going above and beyond to try to deliver good, safe maternity care on a shoestring. Hearing this will be an insult to them and their hard work, and to the women and families in their care.

“We have too few midwives, too little money and too many premises that are not fit for purpose. Even having been in the job a few short weeks, I’m surprised that the Health Secretary is unaware of the significant and severe challenges maternity care currently faces. This needs more Government attention, not less, and it needs it now.”


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

Notes to Editor

See also RCM warns of midwife exodus as maternity staffing crisis grows.

See also Midwife numbers drop by 600 in the year since minister admitted England was 2000 midwives short (

See also Maternity underfunding means care based on what trusts can afford not on women’s safety and needs says RCM.

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

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

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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