Royal College of Midwives calls on Government to ‘get a grip’, as maternity staff in the South West 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 the South West 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 83% 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 84% worked unpaid hours that week to ensure women and families got the care and support they need.

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.”

The poor staffing levels have a knock-on effect on staff with a quarter of respondents saying they always faced unrealistic time pressures and demands, with almost two-thirds (64%) saying this happened always or often. Unsurprisingly, levels of stress and fatigue among midwives and MSWs in the region are high, with over half (60%) 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 551 from the South West. 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.