RCM calls for urgent Government action on midwifery shortages

By Colin Beesley on 24 June 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwife Shortage Bereavement Care Maternity Safety Safety Politics Health Select Committee Infant Mortality Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce

A step change is needed from the Government to once and for all end the longstanding and chronic midwifery shortages in England says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The RCM’s call comes as the baby loss and maternity all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) - for which the RCM provides secretariat support - launch a call for evidence on the impact of staffing shortages on the safety and quality of maternity care.

A number of reports including a Health and Social Care Select Committee on maternity safety and the Ockenden report into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust both recommended Government action to increase the maternity workforce, say the APPGs. Their campaign on safe staffing and this call for evidence ‘aims to help progress this’ they said. “There is an urgent need to get to the heart of the present staffing crisis and what can be done in the short term and beyond to tackle recruitment and retention problems and provide safe care,” said the APPGs.

“The RCM has been campaigning relentlessly and for a long time to get the current and previous governments to once and for all tackle the midwifery staffing shortages that have beset maternity services for many, many years,” said Sean O’Sullivan, Head of Health and Social Policy at the RCM. “Major reports on maternity services continually point to staffing shortages as a key factor affecting the safety and quality of care. Numerous CQC reports on individual trusts also say poor staffing is having an impact on care. Yet England remains 2000 midwives short of the numbers needed and month on month we are seeing a fall in their numbers. This is simply not sustainable and the Government must take urgent and decisive action to address it.”

The call for evidence is open to organisations and individuals including midwives, maternity support workers, and student midwives. “This is something our members can also contribute to. I would encourage as many as possible to respond to this so that the APPGs hear what the situation is like and how it is affecting members and the care they are able to deliver right at the front line,” said Sean O’Sullivan.

The APPGs call for evidence closes on 3 August 2022.

See also the RCM’s Safe Staffing Position Statement at rcm-position-statement-safe-midwife-staffing.pdf.

See also Midwives unable to complete crucial training further highlights need to address midwife shortage (rcm.org.uk).

See also Midwife numbers now lower than at the last general election says RCM.