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15 February, 2018

Today (Thursday 15th February) NHS Improvements has launched new guidance to support maternity safety champions.

The new guide is aimed at maternity safety champions such as midwives and other healthcare professionals who work on the front line of our maternity services and its hoped the new guidance will assist those at trust board and regional level outlining responsibilities and activities to promote best practice.

31 January, 2018

The number of student midwives and nurses entering Scottish Government funded degree programmes will increase by 10.8% in 2018/19.The increase will mean a recommended intake of 3,724, up from 3,360 in 2017/18.

The announcement was made this morning (Wednesday February 1st) by the Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robinson on a visit to Erskine Home where she met students on placement.  

30 January, 2018

The CQC’s national maternity survey 2017 published today (Tuesday 30th January) has highlighted improvements in areas such as choice of where to give birth, quality of information and access to help and support after giving birth.

The survey of more than 18,000 people in England is the fifth of its kind that the CQC has carried out in order in help NHS trusts understand what women’s experiences of their maternity care are and how to make improvements

The results show that across the country, women were generally more positive about their experiences at every stage of their care, with most responses having improved or stayed the same since the survey was last carried out in 2015.

The responses to the 2017 survey show a number of notable trends, including:

  • The proportion of women who said they were offered the choice of giving birth in a midwife-led unit or birth centre has increased by seven per cent since 2013 (35% in 2013; 41% in 2015; rising to 42% in 2017). 
  • Over a third of women (38%) reported that they saw the same midwife at every antenatal appointment: a 4% increase since 2013.
  • 88% of women surveyed said that they were ‘always’ treated with dignity and respect during labour and birth compared to 86% who said this in 2015 (85% in 2013).
  • The majority of women (77%) reported that they were never left alone during the birth of their baby at a time when it worried them. This compares to 74% in 2015.
  • 98% of women said their midwife or health visitor asked them how they were feeling emotionally during their postnatal care.
26 January, 2018

‘Too little attention has been given to retaining midwives and nurses in the NHS, which has clearly resulted in more leaving than joining the profession’ say the Health Committee in their latest report published today (Friday January 26th) on the nursing workforce.

The Committee have also recommended that assurances be given to midwives and nurses from other EU countries that they will be able to remain in the UK working in the NHS post Brexit.

Importantly the Committee has also advised that the Government needs to also observe closely the impact of the removal of the midwifery bursaries, particularly the impact on mature students.

Responding to the report, Jon Skewes, Director of Employment Relations, Policy and Communications at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said; “The recommendations and advice set out by the Health Committee in this report come as no surprise to the RCM.  The advice they have given to Government in this report is inline with what the RCM has been long asking and warning of on vital workforce issues.



“The NHS in England remains 3,500 midwives short of the number of midwives it needs to deliver a safe and high quality maternity service. Indeed the Secretary for State, Jeremy Hunt in November himself exclaimed in the Commons ‘We need more midwives’ and now what the RCM would like to see is a clear commitment and plan from the Government to eliminate the midwifery shortage.


“The implications of Brexit on the midwifery workforce are also most concerning given the current shortage of midwives. The latest data clearly shows the number of EU nationals coming to the UK and registering as midwives has dramatically decreased since the vote last year. The RCM is again calling on the Government to give assurances to midwives and to all healthcare professionals working in the NHS that they can remain working in our health service regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations.


“The impact of years of pay restraint is also without doubt affecting the ability of the NHS to retain midwives. It has never been so crucial that the NHS Pay Review Body make a recommendation for a fair pay rise so that existing midwives feel valued and stay in the NHS. A fair pay rise for midwives and all NHS staff is the key intervention that should be made now and this would go towards solving the workforce retention issues highlighted in this report.”


Notes to editors

Related RCM media releases and reports

 ‘Maternity services can no longer run on goodwill of midwives says RCM https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/%E2%80%98maternity-services-can-no-longer-run-on-goodwill-of-midwives-says-rcm%E2%80%99


To view the RCM’s member survey on pay and the full RCM Pay Review Body Evidence report click here: https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Evidence%20to%20the%20NHS%20Pay%20Review%20Body%202017%20A4%2056pp_2FINAL.pdf


*Question to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt on maternity services (House of Commons - November 14th 2017)




To contact the RCM media relations team call 020 7312 3456 or email media@rcm.org.uk

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/.


22 January, 2018

Today (Monday January 22nd) The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have formally launched their international partnership at the Embassy of Ireland, in London.

A special ceremony to mark this historic agreement was held earlier today and the ‘Memorandum of Mutual Co-operation’ between the RCM and INMO was officially signed  by RCM’s Chief Executive and General Secretary Gill Walton and  Phil Ni Sheaghdh – General Secretary of the INMO, RCM’s President Kathryn Gutteridge and IMNO President  Matina Harkin-Kelly.

Most significantly the partnership between the RCM and INMO is the first of its kind between two trade unions across borders and the Irish sea. In the context of Brexit it will strengthen the ability of midwives to practice and educate regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

As a result of the new partnership Irish midwives will also have full access to the RCM’s innovative learning offer i-learn and i-folio . The RCM’s i-Learn is an online learning resource with over 100 courses available for midwives and MSW’s to build their professional development.

In addition to this both organisations have also  committed to the following;

  • Defining employment assistance to members working in the country of the other ie INMO – Ireland, RCM – UK.
  • Working together to seek to identify areas for common approaches to influence on behalf of our members whether nationally or internationally.
  • Hosting joint events and conferences  for midwives and MSWs across Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Exploring and providing appropriate assistance on the professional development needs of midwife members on an agreed basis.
  • Exploring and providing appropriate assistance on the future routes to influence within the European Union.


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