RCM Chief Exec calls out Government for starving the NHS of resources
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has criticised the Government for its latest derisory pay offer, stating that ‘they are not on the side of working people.’
Speaking at a TUC rally in Westminster yesterday (2 November), RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton strongly condemned the Government, saying that ‘they have attacked pay, pensions, protections at work and all of our public services including maternity care’. They have ‘starved the NHS of resources’ and now NHS workers – including midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) - faced choices between heating and eating.
Addressing the how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting midwives, Gill said:
“The average midwife is now £7000 a year worse off in real terms than 10 years ago. Midwives and MSWs are selling their annual leave back to increase their pay packets, applications to our hardship fund have more than doubled and hospitals are setting up food banks, school uniform banks and debt counselling services.
“In the face of this it’s no surprise that midwives and MSWs – the majority of them women, who are used to putting others first - have said enough is enough.”
Praising the huge courage of midwifes and MSWs in Scotland in voting for industrial action, Gill commented that it is only the second time in the 143-year history of the RCM that midwives have taken such a step.
She added: “This is not in their DNA – but they have been pushed too far. Increasingly I meet midwives and maternity support workers who have left or who are considering leaving because they can’t take any more. They are burnt out, demoralised and exhausted. Years of underfunding and short staffing have taken their toll.”
This is reflected in the RCMs latest survey that shows half of respondents said they were actively considering leaving the profession.
The RCM knows that it’s a simple equation. Midwives and MSWs deserve better pay and conditions. Without better pay more midwives and MSWs will leave the NHS and services will become unsafe.
Reassuring those who use maternity services, Gill praised the dedication of midwives to the care they give, noting that midwives and MSWs who take action will not leave any woman without safe care in labour-care.
Highlighting its solidarity with other professions, Gill concluded: “Midwives tonight are standing with teachers, our health colleagues, with posties and train drivers, with public and private sector workers. Your struggle is our struggle. Your fight is our fight. We do this together and we win together.”
Earlier this month midwives in Scotland voted for industrial action regarding the Scottish Government’s latest pay offer. The RCM will begin balloting its members in England and Wales on pay on 11 November. It is also currently consulting its members on pay in Northern Ireland.