Royal College of Midwives calls on Government to ‘get a grip’, as East of England maternity staff cite safety worries
Midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) in the East of England region have told the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), they have significant concerns about the safe staffing of maternity services. In a survey published today by the RCM, 84% of midwives and MSWs in the region said their staffing levels were unsafe.
The survey, which asked midwives and MSWs about their working conditions during the first week of March, showed the region facing safety concerns, poor staffing levels, excessive workloads and high levels of staff burnout. The East of England region also had the highest birth rate rise in the country. The latest figures show a 4.3% rise between 2020-2021 and with pregnancies becoming increasingly complex with women requiring more care and support, this is further increasing pressures on staff and services, says the RCM.
Dr Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director, Trade Union, at the RCM, said: “Chronic underinvestment in maternity services has brought us to this point, where midwives and MSWs are worried about the ability to care for women and families safely. That is simply unacceptable – but it’s not insurmountable. The Government needs to get a grip, not tomorrow, not next year, but right now. They owe it to the staff who are working way beyond their hours because there aren’t enough midwives or MSWs to relieve them, and they owe it to the women and families who have a right to good quality, safe care.”
Almost nine out of 10 (89.5%) respondents in the region said they worked unpaid beyond their contracted hours. Almost three-quarters (73%) said they always or often faced unrealistic time pressures and workloads. Levels of stress and fatigue among midwives and MSWs in the region is also high with almost six in 10 (59%) saying they felt burnt-out or exhausted at the end of all or most of their shifts.
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].
Notes to Editor
The survey had just under 4,000 responses from midwives and maternity support workers in England with 278 from the East of England. The survey asked four questions - number of unpaid hours worked, time pressures, staffing levels and safety - in their maternity services between 1-8 March 2023.
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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.