RCM calls for better support for new midwives to improve retention rates

By Colin Beesley on 24 August 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services Midwife Shortage Preceptorship

A call for more and better support for newly qualified midwives (NQM) has come from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in a statement today. This support - called preceptorship – aids the move of NQMs into their first job in midwifery.

More structured support for NQMs in their first six months leads to more confidence and job satisfaction. It also improves recruitment and retention says the RCM.

Preceptorship should help NQMs to gain additional skills and confidence working across all midwifery settings, including in the community, and delivering continuity of carer for women. It should also be in addition to an organisation’s formal induction process and mandatory on the job training that all midwives must undergo says the RCM.

“Midwives are highly skilled and competent when they qualify but they need this extra support and guidance in those first crucial six months to ease that transition into being a working midwife. It is important to their confidence building and also to embed and develop the skills they have learned,” said Fiona Gibb, Head of Education at the RCM. “We know that many midwives struggle in their first six months because they are not getting the support they need. This leads to burnout and mental health problems meaning some will simply choose to leave. This is a tragedy for the individual midwives leaving a job they love, and a great loss to the NHS which is already facing serious midwife shortages.”  

A number of recommendations are laid out by the RCM. These include protected time for NQMs when in a new midwifery setting and a personalised development plan for each midwife. Each NQM should also have support from the same preceptor in the first six months and have protected time for reflection and debriefing.

“We need to get this right for these new midwives because it leads to more job satisfaction for them and better care for women, babies, and their families. There are many examples of really good preceptorship programmes across the UK, and we need to be looking at these, learning from them, and embedding them where we work,” said Fiona Gibb. “Preceptorship is not something that can simply be an afterthought, and its importance cannot be overstated. It is vital for the development and future of every midwife and makes our maternity services safer.”

The RCM’s Preceptorship Position Statement can be read at rcm-position-statement-preceptorship-for-newly-qualified-midwives-2022_2.pdf.