George Cross awarded to midwives, maternity support workers and all NHS staff

By Gemma Murphy on 12 July 2022 Midwifery Midwives NHS NHS Staff NHS England RCM RCM Member MSWs - Maternity Support Workers

The courage, compassion and dedication of over 1.5 million NHS workers including midwives and maternity support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen.

Today NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard accepted the George Cross on behalf of all NHS staff as the health service was awarded the prestigious accolade. May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination, was also on hand to accept the award.

The RCM says it’s very proud of all its members who worked tirelessly in understaffed and pressured services to ensure women received around the clock maternity care and babies were delivered safety during the pandemic.

It’s just the third time since the George Cross award was instituted in 1940 by King George VI that it has been awarded to a collective group of people, rather than an individual.

Commenting RCM’s Executive Director Trade Union, Suzanne Tyler said

 “It’s great to see our National Health Service receive the George Cross. We know how hard all healthcare staff, including midwives and MSWs, worked during the various waves of the pandemic, and what they did to keep our NHS afloat. Initially when we were all advised to stay at home and limit our social contact with people, NHS staff were rolling up their sleeves on the front line and in some cases putting themselves at risk when little was known about the virus and before vaccines had been developed.”

The RCM worked closely with members during the pandemic, ensuring they had the best and most up-to-date advice to keep themselves and those in their care as safe as possible. Being able to share that support and advice with pregnant women and families was vital, and many maternity teams showed entrepreneurial spirit in ensuring women could still access antenatal care. This included moving clinics into community spaces and even Premier League football stadia. Despite being concerned about their own health and safety, midwives and MSWs put the needs of pregnant women ahead of their own.

 Suzanne added:

“Our members have grappled with a lot over the past number of years, the pandemic laid bare some of the issues facing UK maternity services such understaffing as well as overall investment in facilities. That said, some brilliant innovation has happened and some of the new digital ways of working that were embraced over the pandemic will now remain across some services. We’re hoping the Government take note of this recognition and award RCM members and all NHS staff with an inflation busting pay rise, one that is desperately needed right now to help staff cope with the rising cost of living.”