Improving pay for RCM members top priority for 2022

on 22 December 2021 NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change Pay RCM RCM Member RCM Wales RCM Scotland RCM Northern Ireland Midwives Midwife Shortage MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Staff NHS NHS Wales NHS England NHS Scotland Staffing Levels

As 2021 draws to a close the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has been reflecting on its Deliver a Decent deal pay campaign and subsequent pay awards for members in all four countries. RCM members in England and Wales have already received their 3% pay increase following recommendations from the Pay Review Body (PRB).  In Scotland most midwives received 4% through a process of negotiation, meanwhile in Northern Ireland members will receive their pay award early in the new year.

The RCM has said it's pleased that having applied pressure that the Government’s original recommendation to the PRB of a 1% pay award for members in England was quashed.

Just last week in Wales the RCM and other NHS trade unions announced the results of their individual member consultations on the enhanced offer from Welsh Government. While RCM members rejected the latest offer the majority of each union’s members very narrowly accepted the offer, which means the formal collective position from the RCM and other Welsh trade unions is to accept the Government’s offer.

Given that all UK NHS pay awards made this year are for one year the RCM is now firmly focused on the 2022/23 pay round and is currently preparing its evidence to submit to the PRB at the end of January. This evidence will include responses and data from a recent all UK Heads of Midwifery survey which is currently being analysed.

However, the role of the PRB will be discussed by the RCM Board later next year following an RCM survey where 95% of RCM members said the RCM should review its support of the PRB process after it recommended a 3% pay rise for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change pay bands.

Jon Skewes RCM Executive Director for External Relations and one of NHS Unions lead negotiators on pay said;

“Maternity services are currently grappling with severe staffing shortages, which have been worsened by COVID-19. Increased pay, more midwives and MSWs and a change in working conditions are absolutely vital if the NHS is to retain and recruit the maternity staff it so desperately needs. There is currently a shortage of 2000 midwives in England alone. Midwives and MSWs need to feel valued, be paid fairly and have working conditions that support a healthy work life balance. Fair pay is critical, so it’s unsurprising that 86% of respondents to the RCM’s recent member survey told us that increased pay might encourage those considering leaving the NHS to return.”

The RCM has repeatedly said that it is concerned that rising prices, inflation, and the upcoming National Insurance increase will mean that its members will have even less in their pockets at the end of each month.  It’s never been more crucial that NHS maternity services have enough staff to meet the demand and currently they don’t and the meagre pay award was the final straw for many.

Jon added:

“In 2022 we will continue to fight for our members, so they receive a decent pay rise next year and one that starts to make up for years of pay restraint. Staffing shortages are impacting many maternity services right now across the UK, understaffing is taking a huge toll on our members, with the pay award being the final straw for many who are now looking for the door. We have warned the Government time and time again that pay is impacting recruitment and retention and we will continue to do so until they listen and pay our members what they are worth.”