Royal College of Midwives calls on Government to ‘get a grip’, as maternity staff in London cite safety worries

on 16 June 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Midwife Shortage Safe high quality care Safety Staffing Levels Women Maternity Safety

Midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) in London 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, a staggering 89.4% 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. It also found that a staggering 89.2% worked unpaid hours that week, with almost a quarter (23.4%) working between five and 10 additional unpaid hours.

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.”

Staff shortages are taking their toll on London maternity staff, with more than three-quarters (78%) respondents in the capital saying they always or often faced excessive workloads and demands on their time. The RCM survey also found that nearly two-thirds (65.4%) of survey respondents felt burnt-out or exhausted at the end of their shift all or most of the time, putting London at the bottom of a depressing league table.


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 448 from London. 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.