Royal College of Midwives calls on Government to ‘get a grip’, as South East midwives work for free to prop up services
Midwives and maternity support workers are working way beyond their contractual hours – without pay – to keep maternity services in the South East running. A new survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) found that more that nine out of 10 (92%) midwives and MSWs in the region said they worked unpaid beyond their contracted hours.
The survey, which reflected services during the first week in March, found grave concerns about high levels of stress and burnout, with over a quarter (26.3%) feeling burnt out after all of their shifts, and almost four in 10 (38.9%) saying this was the case after most of their shifts.
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.”
More than eight out of 10 (83%) respondents in the South East said their services were not safely staffed, a deeply worrying number says the RCM. With birth rates in the region rising, staff shortages are leading to excessive workloads and high levels of staff burnout.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed said they always or often faced unrealistic time pressures or workloads.
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 597 from the South East. The survey asked four questions about the conditions 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.