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21 December, 2017

Today NHS England has published guidance on continuity of carer in maternity services. This is the woman seeing the same midwife, or small group midwives throughout pregnancy, during the labour and birth and after the baby is born.  The document aims to support local maternity systems implement continuity of carer.

20 December, 2017

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today published results of a survey undertaken by the RCM to gauge the opinion of midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) about their feelings towards their pay. Over sixty percent (61%) of those RCM members who responded to the survey have said that; ‘they were considering leaving the service in the next year one to two years’, however, 80% of those midwives would stay if their pay increased.

19 December, 2017

Almost 50 percent (49%) of Heads of Midwifery (HOMs) from across the UK have told The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) that they have had to close their maternity units at some point in the past year because they could not cope with the demand and had serious concerns for safety.

One maternity unit had to close its doors due to understaffing and fears for safety 33 times during twelve months. In total units closed 209 times (between April 2016-April 2017).The average was six times and six units closed on ten or more occasions.

These latest figures have been released today as the RCM publishes it's annual survey of senior midwives today as part of the trade unions evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB).

The Head’s of Midwifery (HOMs) also reported the following;

  • 76% of HOMs said they had to redeploy staff to cover essential services either very or fairly often.


  • HOMs were asked which areas staff were redeployed to and from, overwhelmingly HOMs reported that staff were redeployed from the antenatal service,  the midwife led unit, community and the postnatal service to cover the labour and delivery suite.


  • 67% of HOMs answered that on call community staff had to be called in to cover the labour and delivery suite. 45% of HOMs said this restricted the home birth service.


  • 19% of HOMs said they had to reduce services in the last year. The most common were parenting classes and midwife led units.


  • 71% of HOMs answered they had to call in bank and/or agency staff very or fairly often (very often - nearly every day, fairly often- a few times a week) compared to 62.1% in 2016.


  • 51% of HOMs said that it was difficult/very difficult to ensure that staff take their breaks and leave on time.


One Head of Midwifery in Wales said; “Quality and safety is a constant battle with finance - we present good outcomes for mums and babies, but this is to the detriment of certain areas like community and postnatal care due to our staffing challenges. I struggle with conflict between the requirement for staff and the financial constraints in demonstrating that despite good outcomes we need more midwifery and obstetric staff to cope with rising demand and acuity”.


“The staff regularly do not get their breaks and often leave late. They also undertake education and learning in their own time”.

Head of Midwifery, Scotland


“All midwives working within the hospital units (both consultant and midwife-led) have to take breaks primarily within the unit to ensure safety of mothers and babies. Staff frequently miss or have short breaks due to workload. Staff often are called in at short notice to cover unsuspected sick leave and due to the busyness of the unit”.

Head of Midwifery, Northern Ireland


“The role (HoM) is becoming increasingly more demanding and finances are a great challenge. Midwives are  working hard under very difficult and stretched services. There is very little money to invest in resources, education and training opportunities or the environment”.

Head of Midwifery, England


11 December, 2017

RCM responds to research on financial incentives for breastfeeding by the University of Sheffield and the University of Dundee.

A study published today by the University of Sheffield and the University of Dundee into financial incentives for breastfeeding has shown that offering new mothers financial incentives for breastfeeding may increase low breastfeeding rates.

More than 10,000 new mothers across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire were involved in this study which offered shopping vouchers worth up to £120 if their babies received breastmilk (breastfeeding or expressed milk) at two days, 10 days and six weeks old. A further £80 of vouchers was available if their babies continued to receive breastmilk up to six months. 


8 December, 2017

New figures reveal no significant reduction in the number of women who died during or after pregnancy between 2013 and 2015, according to the latest report from MBBRACE-UK. The overall death rate in the UK is now 8.8 per 100,000.

The MBRRACE-UK report, led by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, includes data on women who died during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2013 and 2015 in the UK.

It also includes an analysis of the care of women who died between 2013 and 2015 from a range of conditions and complications, as well as the care of women with morbidity due to uncontrolled epilepsy and those with severe postpartum mental illness.

In total, 556 women died during or up to one year after the end of pregnancy between 2013 and 2015. In addition, the care of 124 women who died and 46 with severe morbidity were reviewed.

Detailed reviews concluded improvements in care may have made a difference to the outcome of 41% of women who died – 52% of women with epilepsy and 26% of women with severe mental illness.

The report makes a number of recommendations to improve care for women with epilepsy, stroke, mental health problems, haemorrhage and amniotic fluid embolism.

7 December, 2017

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and are reminding all pregnant women to take up the offer of free flu vaccination this winter to protect themselves and their baby from complications caused by the flu virus.

This comes after statistics published today (7 December) by Public Health England reveal just four in ten (43.1%)* mums-to-be have received the vaccine so far this winter. While this is a slight improvement on uptake in 2016 (40.8%) and 2015 (35.6%), it’s vital that more pregnant women come forward for the vaccine.

For the majority of people, flu is usually a self-limiting disease with recovery generally within a week. However, pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to severe infection, and in some cases can lead to stillbirth and maternal deaths.

During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system naturally weakens to ensure that the pregnancy is successful and leaves her less able to fight off infections. That means if a woman catches the flu while pregnant she has a higher chance of getting bronchitis or pneumonia. Pregnant women with flu are also at a greater risk of having a miscarriage, giving birth early or having a baby with a low birthweight.

Between 2009 and 2012, 36 pregnant women died from flu in the UK and Ireland, accounting for 1 in 11 of all maternal deaths during this period**. The flu vaccine has been routinely offered to pregnant women in the UK since 2010.

Recently the Royal College of Midwives published the results of a survey*** which found 44% of pregnant women will avoid vaccines during pregnancy because they are worried it will harm their unborn child’s health as well as their own. However, studies have shown that the flu vaccine is both safe and effective. Pregnant women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.


7 December, 2017

Today the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has written to the Chair NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) to formally commence the 2018-19 pay round for all NHS staff, including midwives.

7 December, 2017

A link between morning sickness indicating a healthy pregnancy, and the reason smoking is so detrimental has been found, according to a review published in the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology. The article discusses the importance of the hormone endokinin for healthy pregnancies, its role in causing morning sickness, and how its normal function may be adversely affected by smoking, leading to poor outcomes in pregnancy.

6 December, 2017

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today welcomed new report by the Chief Nursing Officers Commission on widening participation in Nursing, Midwifery, Education and Careers. RCM Scotland contributed actively to the commission group and the report.

The report also recognises the current challenges being experienced in Scotland with a falling number of midwives due to a high rate of retirals.

6 December, 2017

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has suspended the delivery of babies at South Tyneside District Hospital. Commenting on the move, Becky Banks, Regional Officer for the North East at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a devastating blow and very disruptive to those women who were planning to give birth at the unit. It is also hugely disruptive for the staff working there who were not properly consulted with or informed about these decisions, and have still not been properly informed about them

6 December, 2017

The Brexit Secretary David Davis has been reported as telling the Parliamentary Brexit Committee that he did not think that Brexit will lead to a shortage of staff in the NHS. Commenting, Jon Skewes, Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “I sincerely hope the secretary is right but I have real doubts that this is the case as the evidence is already suggesting the opposite.

1 December, 2017

A midwife from Kent is traveling to Bangladesh as a volunteer in a Royal College of Midwives (RCM) project to support midwifery in Bangladesh.  Áine Alam is a midwife at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and received a prestigious Fellowship from the RCM earlier this year.

28 November, 2017

Responding to comments by Jeremy Hunt on NHS pay reported in the Health Service Journal today Jon Skewes, Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It would appear that the Secretary of State for Health has ignored the advice of unions and others engaged in exploratory negotiations on the pay claim for NHS staff, and on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay structure. That advice was to explore more and talk less. His intervention has not helped the prospect of a deal on pay in the NHS.

27 November, 2017

Leading Royal Colleges call for improvements to reduce avoidable deaths and ensure the best possible care for women and babies

Stillbirth and neonatal deaths have more than halved in the UK from 0.62 to 0.28 per 1,000 total births since 1993, representing a fall of around 220 intrapartum (term) deaths per year, according to new figures published today. 

Led by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, the MBRRACE-UK report looked at the quality of care for stillbirths and neonatal deaths of babies born at term (after 37 weeks) who were alive at the onset of labour and who were not affected by a major congenital anomaly.  This type of death occurred in 225 pregnancies in 2015.

The analysis included a random representative sample of 78 of these babies born in 2015 and aimed to identify potentially avoidable failures of care during labour, delivery and any resuscitation, which may have led to the death.

A key finding was that capacity issues were a problem in over a quarter of the cases. The majority of staffing and capacity problems were related to delivery suite with the remaining issues relating to neonatal care provision. 

Furthermore, in 80% of the stillbirths and neonatal deaths analysed, improvements in care were identified which may have made a difference to the outcome of the baby.  

27 November, 2017

As leaders of the professional bodies for midwives and obstetricians, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcome this refreshed Maternity Safety Strategy and the targets and commitments it contains.

The RCM and RCOG are committed to speaking with one, united voice on maternity safety and ensuring every woman has a good birth, with the best possible experience and outcomes for her and her baby; and to providing a shared vision of a modern maternity team whose common purpose is supporting best practice, respectful relationships, strong leadership and putting women at the centre of care.