Staff safety and wellbeing must be at the heart of NHS in Wales says RCM

on 27 May 2022 TUC Wales NHS Wales RCM Wales Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Good Health

The health, safety, and wellbeing of maternity staff must be at the heart of pandemic recovery plans in Wales. That was the call from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in its motion to the TUC Congress in Wales this week.

NHS Wales has an ambition to be ‘an employer of choice’ says the RCM, and, to achieve that, investing in the health and wellbeing of its staff has never been more crucial. The RCM says that to ‘restore maternity services’ a range of improvements are needed including better access to occupational health, more flexible working and improvements in mental health and wellbeing support.

Commenting, RCM’s Interim Director for Wales Vicky Richards says; “Staff are the NHS’s greatest asset. Investing in them and their health and wellbeing must be top of the agenda for NHS employers in Wales. We know well cared for and well rested staff can deliver better care to women and their babies. Employers also have a duty of care to their staff and it’s more imperative than ever given the current pressures facing maternity staff in Wales.

“I fear that we will see many midwives and maternity support workers heading for the door in Wales if efforts are not redoubled to better support staff and improve retention levels.”

An RCM survey last year revealed over half (57%) of respondents are thinking about leaving the NHS. Of those respondents who had worked in the NHS five years or less, half were considering leaving and more than four in ten (46%) said they would do so in the next year.

The RCM motion was presented to the conference by RCM workplace representative Toni Wood from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and was passed by the TUC Wales Congress. The TUC will now campaign on this in the coming year, supported by the RCM.

During the course of the week the RCM also contributed to a composite motion with the British Dietetic Association calling for greater investment in the NHS workforce. The two organisations called for adequate and protected time for continuing professional development, protected time for staff to recover from the pandemic, and a meaningful, restorative, and sustainable pay rise to address years of pay shortfalls and to retain staff into the future.