More flexible working will support staff retention says RCM

By Colin Beesley on 27 June 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwife Shortage Safety Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Flexible Working MSWs - Maternity Support Workers England Wales Northern Ireland Pay and Agenda For Change

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is encouraging more flexible working to support better retention of midwives and maternity support workers (MSW). The RCM statement comes as the NHS Staff Council publish new guidance on flexible working for NHS line managers and staff.

New flexible working rules for the NHS were introduced in September 2021. These enable NHS employees in England to request flexible working from their first day of employment. The rules cover all NHS staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland employed under Agenda for Change including midwives, maternity support workers, nurses, and physiotherapists.

“I would encourage employers to really embrace flexible working in their trusts and boards as quickly as possible, and actively promote it to their staff. We are losing midwives and MSWs because inflexibility in their workplace means they cannot combine this with commitments in their home life, such as caring responsibilities. More flexibility will help to keep many of these dedicated staff in the NHS, stemming the flow of staff out if it,” said Alice Sorby Director for Employment Relations at the RCM. “This will benefit employers, it will benefit staff, and ultimately that means safer and better care for women, babies and their families.”

The RCM in collaboration with maternity Action last year published guidance for midwives and MSWs. This outlines the rules around flexible working, how to apply for it, and advice if facing problems or obstacles. Supporting this are Agenda for Change Handbook provisions and guidance for local joint negotiating committees on flexible working produced by the NHS Staff Council.

“There is a raft of guidance, information, and support available that I hope will break down barriers to flexible working and help to embed it as common practice in the NHS. The RCM and its activists will be working hard to support staff and employers to make flexible working a reality for those that need and want to work in this way.”

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