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‘Call for assurances for EU midwives’

13 September, 2016

‘Call for assurances for EU midwives’


EU flag Credit: Shutterstock

Official figures show that England’s NHS has the equivalent of 1192 full-time midwives from other EU countries.

The RCM has obtained the figures, which indicate that London in particular could be facing a massive midwife shortage.

The RCM fears this will be the case if the working status of EU midwives is not addressed by the government.

In London alone, 16% (674 full-time midwives) of the total midwifery workforce comes from other EU countries.

At one trust in central London, almost a third of midwives (32.2%) are from elsewhere in the EU.

Jon Skewes, RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications, said: ‘The RCM like many other unions campaigned to remain in the EU and while we respect the outcome of the EU referendum our concern is now for our members whose future employment rights in the UK currently remain unknown.

‘England is now 3500 midwives short and since obtaining these latest figures the RCM is deeply concerned that the current shortage could worsen to almost 5000 midwives, if midwives from other European countries currently working for the NHS are no longer allowed work in the UK post Brexit.’

He continued: ‘To lose over 1000 midwives will impact hugely on an already overstretched and struggling maternity service.

‘It is also immensely unfair that hardworking midwives working for our National Health Service should be left in limbo with regard to their future employment rights in this country.

‘The government needs to provide assurance on job security not only to these midwives, but for thousands of other NHS workers from other EU countries.

‘Only last week the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that European bankers will be given preferential treatment to protect the economy after Brexit, why not NHS workers?'

He added: ‘The RCM is calling on the government to clarify the working situation for hardworking NHS staff from other EU countries post Brexit sooner rather than later.’

Outside of London, at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, more than 10% of the midwifery workforce is from elsewhere in the EU.  

The RCM’s chief executive Cathy Warwick will today (13 September), during her speech at the TUC congress, highlight the how the loss of midwives from other EU countries will impact on the continuity of midwife-led care across the UK.

Meanwhile, Jon Skewes will make a speech on protecting worker and trade union rights in the EU Brexit.

For more information and to see the EU midwife statistics, click here.

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