Latest CQC survey is a ‘wake-up call’ for the Government say RCM

By Benjamin Jackson on 12 January 2023 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government CQC - Care Quality Commission Safety

Yesterday's report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlights the desperate need to recruit and retain more midwives and should be a wakeup call to the Government, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). 

The survey of nearly 21,000 women who gave birth in February 2022 highlighted growing concerns about the lack of availability of staff and aftercare in hospital following the birth. The findings showed that those surveyed were less likely to say they were ‘always’ able to get a member of staff to help them when they needed attention during labour and birth; 63% compared with 65% in 2021. Results were lower still for care in hospital after the birth; with 57% who said they were ‘always’ able to get help - compared with 59% in 2021. While these drops appear small, they represent a worrying trend that needs to be addressed urgently. 

Commenting on the findings, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Executive Director, Midwife, Birte Harlev-lam, said: 

“While the vast majority of women surveyed are happy with the care, compassion and kindness shown by midwives which is so instrumental to delivering good maternity care, it is clear that there is a growing trend in expectations not being met. The findings of this survey could not be clearer - there is an urgent need to recruit and retain more midwives across the UK. Those leading maternity services are doing their best to cover the gaps, but it is telling that staff shortages were clearly evident to the women responding to this survey.  

“This is a sad, but inevitable, consequence of years of lack of investment and low morale leading to a shortage of midwives across the UK. It’s not rocket science. That is why, with a shortage of over 2000 midwives in England alone, we desperately need to attract people into midwifery and retain those who are considering leaving the profession. The Government needs to act on this now.” 

The survey also showed that for some women the care they received fell short of expectations and satisfaction levels have fallen across many areas. It’s clear from the survey those using maternity services don’t always feel they are given the appropriate advice and support and there has also been a decline in people feeling that they get the correct information and explanations they need when seeing a midwife. 

On areas that showed decline Birte added: 

“Listening to and acting on women’s experiences of maternity services is the bedrock of high-quality care. The Government needs to listen to the findings of this report which are loud and clear, and act. There are many areas of maternity care where people don’t feel satisfied with the service they get and the fault for this lies squarely with the Government. The fact that most women surveyed had a good maternity experience over the last five years is a testament to the outstanding care that midwives give, and their professionalism in the face of such difficult working conditions.” 


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

The full report can be found on the CQC website. 

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.