Long awaited investment in maternity safety in latest budget

By Ben Jackson on 06 March 2024

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) cautiously welcomes the Government announcement in today’s budget of £35 million to improve maternity safety in England.

The RCM is particularly pleased to see the emphasis on training for midwives and other maternity staff.

Commenting on the announcement, the RCM’s Chief Executive, Gill Walton, said:

"I’m delighted that the Government is now taking concrete action to make maternity safety a priority. We all owe it to women and families to make sure they get safe, high-quality maternity care. One of the most effective ways of doing that is to ensure we retain the staff we have, and ensure that they receive the training they need. We look forward to discussing what the Budget announcement means in practice with the Secretary of State in the coming weeks."

The RCM was also encouraged to hear plans for a new rostering app for staff. While details are still awaited, it is hoped that the new app will improve flexible working opportunities. The lack of these are often a barrier to midwives remaining within the NHS, especially for those with caring responsibilities.

Gill added:

"We have long been arguing that flexible working in the NHS is vital to boost retention of midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs). The most recent NHS staff survey highlighted that only around 30% of staff were satisfied with flexible working options. If midwives and MSWs are allowed to work flexibly it will improve not just their working life but encourage them to stay in the NHS where they are much needed."

Other measures in the budget which may impact midwives and MSWs include:

  • An increase in the number of paid childcare hours which will provide a lifeline for midwives and MSWs struggling with the cost of living.
  • An increase the High Income Child Benefit Charge threshold to £60,000 (currently £50,000) from April 2024.
  • National insurance will be cut from 10% to 8%.