Invest in maternity services to invest in Scotland’s future, urges RCM

on 21 September 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Government NHS RCM Scotland Scotland Scottish Government Scottish Maternity Services Safety Safe high quality care Staffing Levels

More investment is needed in Scotland’s maternity services as they come under increasing pressure from changes in the mental, physical and social health needs of pregnant women and families according to a new report from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). With more women and families needing enhanced or specialist support, there is a risk that Scotland will begin to lag behind the rest of the UK in maternity care.

The State of Maternity Services report sets out the challenges facing midwives, maternity care assistants (MCAs) and the wider maternity team – and how those challenges can be met. The majority of pregnant women in Scotland are either overweight of obese, which can make pregnancy, labour and birth more complex. At the same time, women in Scotland are giving birth later in life, which again can require different levels of care.

Jaki Lambert, Director for RCM Scotland, said:

“Investing in Scotland’s maternity services is investing in Scotland’s future. All the evidence shows that babies that thrive during pregnancy have a better start in life – and so much of that is dependent on good maternity care. We need to ensure that our midwives and MCAs are supported to provide the best care for women and families, from how we train them to how we retain them.”

The RCM has welcomed the establishment of the Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce by the Scottish Government, but urges thoughtful and radical approaches to recruitment and retention. In particular, the RCM is calling on the Scottish Government to support apprenticeship routes into midwifery, drawing on existing knowledge and experience within the maternity workforce. Such measures have already shown positive results in England.

Jaki continued:

“Midwives and MSWs are utterly committed to what they do, to supporting women and families through pregnancy, labour, birth and into the postnatal period. How much better would it be if we were to maximise that commitment by investing in them, by supporting and rewarding their career progression whichever route they take and by developing a sustainable maternity workforce? We already know that recruitment in our rural and remote areas is a real challenge, but these measures could help turn the tide.

“Midwifery is an incredibly rewarding career. We want to reverse the recent downward trend in application numbers by offering careers that recognise and reward excellence in care ensure that Scotland has a midwifery workforce that is fit for the future.”

Access the report here.