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‘A shortage of midwives means Maternity Support Workers are more vital than ever says RCM’

1 November, 2017

‘A shortage of midwives means Maternity Support Workers are more vital than ever says RCM’


The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today officially launched Maternity Support Worker Month on day two of its Annual Conference in Manchester Central.

To coincide with MSW Month the RCM has released the results from its latest survey of Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) which has revealed the following;

  • MSWs as a whole feel undervalued by their pay and current banding (almost 50 percent (47.6%) of those surveyed are in band 3 earning less than £19,968 per year.


  • Over seventy percent (77%) of MSWs said they would like more training.


  • Almost sixty (59.57%) percent of MSWs surveyed said they would like to see their profession regulated.


  • MSWs are a loyal workforce with over forty percent (43%) working for their current organisation and employer for ten years or more.


  • While over 60 percent (60.9%) of respondents confirmed their title was a MSW there remains a wide variety of titles used such as Maternity Care Assistant (almost 22%) and Health Care Assistant (over 10%).

Commenting, Denise Linay, Head of Organising and Engagement at the RCM said; “Maternity Support Workers provide important support to women and their babies and are a vital part of the overall maternity team. Particularly with the current shortage of midwives in England MSWs are increasingly playing a bigger role in supporting midwives in their work. Their role can be quite varied including supporting the mother to implement advice given by the midwife on a variety of public health issues including breastfeeding.

“Supporting mothers to initiate and establish breastfeeding is a key element of maternity care. Whilst midwives provide information and support for women immediately after birth, maternity support workers are a vital element in the ongoing support that women require. As with midwifery care, continuity of support from an MSW can also enhance a woman’s experience of her care.

“These findings from RCM’s latest survey of MSW’s clearly reveal that MSWs are working at a much higher level than their pay would suggest and many respondents felt their pay and career progression as an MSW is currently quite stagnant.

“It is also no secret that the role, banding and training received by MSWs varies widely not only across the countries, but also at trust level where even there job titles can be different.

“The RCM wants support workers employed in maternity settings to be seen as an integral part of the wider maternity team as well as our union and professional organisation. That’s why for the month of November the RCM will be celebrating the role of MSWs and all the fantastic work they do to support not only their midwifery colleagues, but mothers their babies and families too.”


Janet Ashton is a MSW at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and says; “Working as an MSW is hard at times as the role is so varied, but its a very rewarding position. The best thing for me is being able to be part of a mother’s pregnancy journey during the antenatal and postnatal period which gives women the continuity of care they deserve.


“I work in the community and teach mothers breastfeeding skills. I also support them with colostrum harvesting prior to delivery. There is nothing nicer than seeing a happy confident breastfeeding Mother and a content baby.”





Notes to editors

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual 2017 Conference takes place in Manchester Central, October 31st and November 1st 2017. http://www.rcmconference.org.uk/



For more information and to view the full RCM conference programme click here: http://www.rcmconference.org.uk/programme/#not-set:all


To find out more about the RCM’s MSW Month click here: https://www.rcm.org.uk/maternity-support-worker-month



All the latest RCM press releases are available here: https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/press-releases



*To request a copy of the Maternity Support Worker Survey: MSW Role and Responsibilities October 2017 contact the RCM Press Office*


To contact the RCM press office call 020-7312 3456 or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.



Notes to editors

The 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 website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.

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