Royal College of Midwives calls on Government to ‘get a grip’, as Midlands midwives work for free to prop up services

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

Midwives and maternity support workers are working way beyond their contractual hours – without pay – to keep Midlands maternity services running. A new survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) found that more than nine out of 10 (91.9%) midwives and MSWs in the region said they worked unpaid beyond their contracted hours. The Midlands is one of the worst regions in England for staff working unpaid hours.

The survey, which reflected services during the first week in March, found grave concerns about safe staffing levels too, with 88% saying they did not think their service was safely staffed.

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 three-quarters (74%) of Midlands survey respondents said they always or often faced unrealistic time pressures or demands. This is also impacting the mental and physical health of staff with over a quarter (27%) saying they felt burnt-out or exhausted at the end of all their shifts, and over a third (36%) saying this was the case for 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 624 from the Midlands. The survey asked four questions - around 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.