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27 October, 2017


NHS spending on midwifery agency, bank staff and overtime in the UK has reached over £97 million in 2016 says a report published today by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The RCM report details spending in maternity units in 98% of NHS organisations in the UK. It shows that 26 NHS organisations spent over £1 million on agency, bank or overtime on midwives in 2016. Twenty four of these are in England with one each in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Nine organisations spent over £2 million.

The findings come from a freedom of Information request (FOI)* investigating the costs of temporary staffing through agency, overtime and bank use and are published as the RCM starts its annual conference in Manchester.**

A total of just over £97 million was spent on midwifery agency, bank and overtime payments in 2016 throughout the UK. This is enough to pay for 2,731 full time and experienced midwives or 4,391 newly qualified midwives.

The FOI found that the average hourly spend for an agency midwife was £43.65. This is compared to a permanently employed midwife with ten years’ experience working full time in the NHS, for which the average hourly rate across the UK is around £18.30. The revelation comes as England struggles to maintain its maternity services with a shortage of 3500 full time midwives.

In the autumn 2015 the Government placed a cap on agency spending in NHS trusts in England. Maternity units in England spent £20,635,047.30 on agency midwives in 2016 which is down slightly from spending on agency midwives in 2015 which was £24,950,157. However, bank spending has leapt from £43,225,603 in 2015 to £58,646,085.50 in 2016 showing that the agency cap has not tackled the underlying problem and maternity units’ reliance on temporary staffing is still growing year-on-year.

The problems are also serious in other UK countries. In Northern Ireland NHS organisations spent £3.2 million on agency, bank and overtime in maternity in 2016. In Scotland NHS organisations spent £5.3 million on agency, bank and overtime in maternity in 2016. The NHS in Wales spent £1,286,234.82 on agency, bank and overtime in maternity in 2016.

The RCM believes that the current shortage of 3,500 midwives and seven years of pay restraint are the two most significant factors that are contributing to the rising spending on temporary staffing. The RCM has concerns the shortage of midwives could grow even further across the UK because of the introduction of tuition fees and removal of the bursary for student midwives this year; the continuing uncertainty around midwives from other EU countries right to remain following Brexit; and retention of existing midwives in an increasingly pressured service.

In 2016 the RCM conducted research*** of the reasons why midwives leave, or are considering leaving, midwifery and found that 80% of midwives said they would stay in midwifery if their pay increased.

30 October, 2017

Research on links between breastfeeding and the bonding benefits has been published today by the American Psychological Association. Commenting on the research, Clare Livingstone, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “There are many ways for mothers and babies to bond.

27 October, 2017

The NHS should not employ doulas and they should be directly commissioned by women, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in a new position statement on doulas published today.

The detention of immigrant pregnant women is also covered in an updated position statement, Detention of pregnant women. In it the RCM repeats its call for an end to the practice. The statements come as the RCM holds its annual conference in Manchester on 31st October and 1st November 2017.

Doulas support a woman and her family during and after pregnancy. The support is tailored to the woman and may be emotional, physical, practical or social. In its doulas statement the RCM says that it supports a woman’s choice to use doulas. But it also stresses that doulas must not provide clinical care at any time. It goes on to say that doulas should never be used as substitutes for midwives or maternity support workers or to compensate for staffing shortages.

20 October, 2017

A new study published today by ASH has shown the extent at which local services have had to cut their stop smoking budgets.

In 2016 budgets were cut in all local authority areas where smoking cessation was a low priority.

The study is based on online surveys of local tobacco control leads in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The surveys found an increasing number of authorities making cuts to stop smoking budgets, from 16% of services being cut in 2014, rising to 39 % in 2015 and 59% in 2016.

17 October, 2017

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Labour Ward Leaders programme ‘working together for safer care’ has been shortlistedfor a Health Service Journal (HSJ) award.

The RCM’s education team who developed the pilot programme have been nominated in the category for ‘Improving Outcomes through Learning and Development’.

The Labour Ward Leaders Programme was developed following work initiated by the asphyxia working group of ATAIN (avoiding term admission into neonatal units).

The programme itself was designed and delivered collaboratively by the RCM, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the patient safety team at NHS Improvement with funding from Health Education England (HEE) and ATAIN.

The labour leaders programme is delivered as a one-day interactive workshop and is aimed at multidisciplinary maternity teams. Initially a pilot programme with four programmes was made available to labour ward teams from September to December 2016. Eight teams with equal representation of midwives and doctors (primarily obstetricians) attended each workshop. This totalled 32 Trusts and 245 labour ward leaders.

16 October, 2017

Today (Tuesday 16th October) in Wales, The Children’s, Young People and Education Committee have published their latest report ‘Perinatal Mental Health in Wales’.

The report contains 27 recommendations and the authors have also highlighted the need for the Welsh Government to undertake a public awareness campaign to improve understanding of perinatal mental health conditions and their symptoms across Wales.

They have also called on the Welsh Government to work with the relevant professional bodies to ensure that perinatal mental health becomes a core part of the training and continuous professional development of all healthcare professionals likely to come into contact with pre- and post- natal women.

Responding to the report, Helen Rogers the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Director for Wales said; “The RCM very much welcomes this report and is pleased that the RCM’s professional views and recommendations have been incorporated into these crucial recommendations.

16 October, 2017

New analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that midwives will be thousands of pounds worse off a year by 2022 despite the Government scrapping the public sector pay cap.

The TUC says the findings are proof that the ‘living standards squeeze’ will continue for midwives and all other  public sector workers.

The findings released today coincide with a major TUC rally against the pay cap which will be attended by members of the Royal College Midwives (RCM) among other NHS trade unions and various other unions representing public sectors workers.

RCM’s Chief Executive Gill Walton will join the TUC’s General Secretary Frances O’ Grady and other trade unions leaders who will address attendees at the rally in Parliament Square, London.

16 October, 2017

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published statistics on births, including home births and stillbirth rates. Commenting on the statistics, Louise Silverton, Director for Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The drop in home births is a concern and we need to know why this is happening.

13 October, 2017

A pregnant mother sleeping on her back during late pregnancy may cause problems for the fetus, according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology. This is the first study to monitor unborn babies overnight and at the same time record the mother’s position during sleep.

The sleep position of women in late pregnancy has been shown to be related to an increased risk of late stillbirth (after 28 weeks gestation).

Researchers at the University of Auckland investigated sleep position of pregnant women by setting up an infrared video camera to record their position as they slept. They also continuous recorded the heart rate of the women and fetus overnight using an ECG device.

10 October, 2017

Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the NHS pay cap has been “scrapped”, but has yet to reveal whether or not midwives and other NHS staff will get pay awards to match rising inflation.

9 October, 2017

Today the Welsh Government has published the findings of the ‘Your Birth We Care’ survey. The survey aimed to evaluate women’s views of antenatal services and how current service provisions can prepare women for labour, birth and parenting. It will also help develop a shared vision for the future of midwifery led services based on the findings.

4 October, 2017

Today (3rd October 2017) Jeremy Hunt gave a speech at the Conservative party Conference in which he pledged to create additional training posts for student nurses and more flexible working for NHS staff. Commenting on the speech, Suzanne Tyler, Director for services to Members at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a welcome commitment to the NHS and may go some way to addressing the often woeful staffing levels

27 September, 2017

There is overwhelming public support for removing the Government’s cap on NHS pay according to survey results released today (Thursday, 28th September 2017) by 14 NHS unions. The survey of over 2,000 people by ComRes asked if they supported removal of the cap on pay for NHS staff. A large majority (84%) supported scrapping the cap.

27 September, 2017

The Scottish Government  has today (Thursday September 27th) named five Early Adopter Boards that will take forward the early implementation of The Best Start recommendations for maternity and neonatal services.

The following five health boards in Scotland will take forward early implementation of the Best Start recommendations, including the implementation of continuity of carer and the development of local delivery of maternity care.


  • NHS Forth Valley
  • NHS Highland
  • NHS Lanarkshire
  • NHS Lothian
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (part Board – Clyde only)


18 September, 2017

Pay remains top of the agenda for The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) at it’s Activists Conference which  takes place in Leeds today. The RCM Activists Conference will bring together all accredited RCM stewards, health and safety representatives, maternity support worker (MSW) advocates, branch secretaries, chairs and treasurers.