Cathy Warwick, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives has issued a wish list for maternity services in 2017.
Top of her list is a wish that midwives and maternity support workers are supported to deliver the highest quality maternity services for women and babies throughout the UK. She also stresses that to achieve this we need to successfully deliver on maternity services policy in all four countries.
Cathy also calls for a reduction in unnecessary poor outcomes, in inequalities in outcomes and on ensuring that every woman gets personalised care from a midwife, and if needed an obstetrician they know and trust.
Among her other hopes are Government commitments to end the midwifery shortage in England, a rethink of plans to remove bursaries for student midwives and fair pay for NHS staff.
Cathy Warwick’s wish list:
- Reducing unnecessary poor outcomes, inequalities in outcomes and ensuring every woman gets personalised care from a midwife and if needed, an obstetrician, they know and trust.
- End the shortage of midwives in England. The country is short of 3500 full time midwives. This is a shortage that has been persisting for over a generation. This will also go a long way to ensuring women get continuity of carer (women seeing the same midwife or small group of midwives throughout the pregnancy). The RCM has produced two recent publications for staff to support safer and better staffing.*
- Government to re-think plans to remove bursaries for student midwives in England. Removing the bursary and making student midwives pay tuition fees could leave midwives mired in debts of over £63,000, a sum that the first graduates would still be paying back in 2050. This plan risks the future supply of qualified midwives. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have all committed to keeping the bursary
- To see progress on implementing the National Maternity Review in England. Published this year, this is a blueprint to transform maternity services.
- Government must respect the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) and stop pressuring the NHSPRB to cap awards at a maximum of 1%. Rising inflation and pay restraint could see midwives almost £9000 worse off by 2020.
- All trusts in the UK signed up to the RCM’s caring for You Staff wellbeing Charter**. Signing the RCM’s Charter commits trusts to take real action over the welfare and working conditions of their maternity staff.
- End the shortage of midwives in England. The country is short of 3500 full time midwives. This is a shortage that has been persisting for over a generation. This will also go a long way to ensuring women get continuity of carer (women seeing the same midwife or small group of midwives throughout the pregnancy). The RCM has produced two recent publications for staff to support safer and better staffing.
Commenting, Cathy Warwick, said: “This wish list shows how little progress or action we have seen from the Government over the past year. Midwifery shortages are even higher than last year. Demands on services are increasing yet staffing, funding and resources continue to lag way behind what is needed. NHS staff pay is under threat and student midwives in England are facing significant future debt.
“Future student midwives in England will now have to face getting into tens and tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt to train, possibly taking them decades to pay back. This will not help our midwifery shortage as it will almost certainly put people off training to be midwives. A large proportion of our student midwives already carry debt from a first degree England, should and must do the same as the other UK countries..
“The Government has also got to show that it values NHS staff, who are working harder and harder, with what seems less and less. As in the past the Government are pressuring the NHS Pay review Body to keep pay awards to a maximum of 1% for NHS staff. They need to stop this pressure and genuinely allow the pay body the freedom to recommend pay awards.
“Employers also must take action to care for their staff better and value them more. I urge all those trusts that have not signed our staff wellbeing Charter to do so. Many are already doing this. All the evidence suggests that if you look after staff, they care they give improves. Investing in staff is investing in better care.
“There are though some things to be optimistic about. The recommendations of the National Maternity Review in England, if implemented, could transform services and lead to better care for women, babies and their families.” It needs commitments from the Government, those providing NHS services and of course NHS staff. I hope that we see even more progress on this in the coming year.”
To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
* Getting the Midwifery Workforce right’ and ‘RCM guidance on implementing the NICE safe staffing guideline on midwifery staffing in maternity settings’ can be viewed and downloaded at https://www.rcm.org.uk/rcm-publications (RCM members only)
**Information on the RCM’s Caring for You Campaign can be viewed at https://www.rcm.org.uk/caring-for-you-campaign
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/.