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Country news: Northern Ireland

4 September, 2017

Country news: Northern Ireland

News and updates from RCM Northern Ireland by director Breedagh Hughes (Midwives Autumn 2017).

Westminster support:

The ongoing absence of a functioning Assembly continues to cause huge problems for midwives in Northern Ireland (NI). Despite some of our local reps giving evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body earlier this year, we have no minister in place to agree a pay rise for healthcare staff in NI, where midwives earn less than colleagues elsewhere in the UK. Nor can the RCM lobby the Assembly for an increase in the number of midwifery training places, to fund the implementation of the RQIA recommendations on perinatal mental health, or to approve funding for the continued roll-out of the NI maternity strategy. There is no justice minister with whom to discuss the issue of the requirement for midwives in NI to report criminal offences such as women reporting that they have been raped or have taken abortion pills. 

So we are now asking our Westminster MPs for support on these difficult issues – especially our Fair Pay Overdue campaign, which you can read about in the feature on page 40 or on our website. We will also be discussing with our MPs and MEPs the impact of Brexit on those midwives who live on one side of the border and work on the other. Please contact RCM Connect if this will affect you – they will pass your query on to the team in the Belfast office.


Following a very successful RCM/SANDS conference in June, booking is now open for the All Ireland RCM/INMO conference on 12 October in Armagh. Meanwhile, the RCM attended its first Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) conference as a delegate and received unanimous support for our motion calling for the development of perinatal mental health services in Ireland, North and South.

Valuable experience:

As you know, Cathy Warwick retired as RCM chief executive in August, and has been succeeded by Gill Walton. Closer to home, I recently attended an event in Enniskillen where five midwives with almost 200 years of experience between them shared a retirement party – best wishes to Liz, Lesley, Geraldine, Sandra and Lettie!

Birth stories:

Planning continues for next year’s celebration of the Midwives Act (Ireland) of 1918 and we would encourage you all to talk to older colleagues, your mothers and grandmothers and send their birth stories to us at centennial@rcm.org.uk

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