RCM call for government to ensure maternity is key plank of women’s health strategy

on 25 July 2023 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government Disabilities England Flexible Working Healthcare Professionals MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Staff On Employment Trade Unions TUC

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the Government to ensure that maternity care is central to its women’s health strategy, following the announcement last week of several new measures aimed at improving women’s health. Among the measures announced were the development of a new AI tool to identify early risks in maternity units and additional support for women who have suffered pregnancy loss.

“Maternity is the front door into the NHS for many women. Making sure maternity care is an intrinsic part of the strategy will be the key to its success,” said Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife at the RCM. “Maternity services can and should be a gateway for women’s healthcare. The Government needs to recognise this and ensure that maternity services and those working within them are properly resourced and trained to provide this vital support.”

While the RCM has welcomed the measures set out by the Government for those who have experienced pregnancy loss, it is disappointed not to see better counselling and perinatal mental health provision included. Ahead of the publication of its own roadmap for perinatal mental health next month, the RCM believes this is fundamental to the support of women and families who have experienced pregnancy loss.

Birte continued: “The loss of a pregnancy, at any stage, can be absolutely devastating so the focus on improving care and support around pregnancy loss is particularly welcome. However, that must be backed up with investment. There is a significant shortage of specialist bereavement support midwives, leaving those providing care to these women overwhelmed with the demands on them.”

The RCM has also called for a focus on the health of women in the workplace. The NHS has a significant female workforce including most midwives and maternity support workers who need support with their health, including more help for those going through the menopause. The RCM has developed resources to support its members in this area, but has called on NHS employers to step up to the plate and deliver on this.