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‘Safety, Partnership and Leadership top priority for RCM’s new Chief Executive’

31 October, 2017

‘Safety, Partnership and Leadership top priority for RCM’s new Chief Executive’

“The relationships we form in the workplace are the key to safety in our maternity services”, the comment came from The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) new Chief Executive Gill Walton in her opening address to delegates at RCM’s Annual Conference in Manchester Central.

The two day conference attended by midwives, maternity support workers (MSWs) and student midwives from across the UK will be for some RCM members the first opportunity they have had to meet the RCM’s new leader.

Revealing safety, partnership and leadership as her top three priorities, Gill Walton, RCM’s Chief Executive said; “The relationships that we form in the workplace are the key to safety. We must strengthen partnerships with other health professionals so that we can debate and discuss the future of safe maternity care, so that together we can give clear information to women and families.

“I have to mention midwifery and obstetric staffing issues. There are huge gaps in some services which contribute to real concerns. When things go wrong, often the underpinning issue is that of relationships. Healthy relationships at all levels – clinical, system, regional, national, across professions – need to be supported if we are to develop the ambition of multi-disciplinary working which underpins safe care. Where barriers exist we need to recognise that these are within professions as much as they are between professions.”

Highlighting current collaborative work on safety by the RCM with other royal colleges such as The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) Gill shared her plans with delegates.

 “I also want to focus on the RCM’s involvement in safety initiatives and in helping midwives and MSWs to practice in a safe way. The RCM has a particularly important role to play in ensuring that you have access to the evidence in a way that you can understand. You in turn need to help women to understand the evidence in a way that makes sense to them and enables them to make choices that are right for them. It is you, the midwife, who has the key role in ensuring that women are able to weigh up the benefits and risks related to their choices.”

On midwifery leadership the newly appointed Chief Executive has set herself a clear goal; “It worries me that midwifery leaders aren’t in the right place in NHS organisations – too often they are overloaded with responsibility for other specialties which can prove a distraction from maternity care.

I’m going to work to strengthen our midwifery leadership. My key target is that in five years time, every NHS employer will have a Director of Midwifery, equivalent to a  Director of Nursing, who is responsible and accountable for the care women receive and who will act as the women’s advocate. If we could get this right then this would underpin everything else that we do.”

While her speech primarily tackled issues on safety, better choice and information for women and stronger multi-disciplinary working, pay was not forgotten.

“The RCM along with our colleagues in other trade unions across the public sector have campaigned hard to get the Government to scrap its divisive and counter-productive cap on pay. I’m glad to report that it appears as if our efforts have paid off. But that is not enough; the Government must go further. 

It must commit to fully funding a real terms pay increase for midwives, MSWs and all our other hard working NHS staff and public sector workers. That is why the RCM and the other NHS unions have submitted a claim for a fully-funded real terms pay increase. So today I call on the Government to meet our claim in full. Anything less will be unjust and unfair. I hope Jeremy Hunt has got that message.”



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


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


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


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