RCM calls on England members to record unpaid hours and staffing levels in quick survey

Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwife Shortage

Overstretched and under-resourced maternity services are putting enormous pressures on midwives and maternity support workers (MSW) as they strive to deliver safe care says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). This is leaving many burnt-out and exhausted. The RCM wants to capture a true picture of those efforts to go over and above to ensure women are cared for safely.

The RCM is asking members in England to complete a quick survey on how many extra unpaid hours they worked in the week leading up to International Women’s Day today. The survey also asks a few questions on staffing levels, workloads, and the safety of care.

This toxic situation is hitting the health and wellbeing of maternity staff, pushing many to leave the NHS for the sake of their own health, and because they do not want to deliver substandard and unsafe care.

“We know that many of you are working beyond your contacted hours, often unpaid, and missing breaks to ensure women get the best safest and possible care. in campaigning to improve the working conditions of members its important we can share the realities you face day in, day out, the incredible efforts you make, and the impact this is having on you physically and mentally,” said Alice Sorby, the RCM’s Director of Employment Relations. “That’s why we need as many of you as possible to make quick notes every day then fill in the survey and let us know what the situation is out there.”

The maternity crisis is also worsening. Right now, England is over 2000 midwives short of the numbers needed to deliver safe and high-quality care. Report after report – such as the recent Ockenden report into services at Shrewsbury and Telford – paint a direct line between staffing levels and safety. Compounding this shortage are rising midwifery vacancies which increased from 3.8% to 10.9% between 2019 and 2022.

If the number of midwives in England had risen at the same pace as the NHS workforce as a whole, we would today have over 2,600 more midwives than we do – wiping out the Government’s own shortage estimate. This is a crisis that could, and should, have been avoided says the RCM.

The survey for members in England is at https://forms.office.com/e/Nc8PVet881