Country news: Scotland
This year the RCM Scotland team has been working really hard to influence policy-makers at a national level for the benefit of our members and for maternity service users.
This autumn has seen three big successes for us:
1. Supporting NQMs:
In September we published our State of maternity services report. We met with the cabinet secretary for health Jeanne Freeman and emphasised the pressures brought about by a high number of experienced midwives retiring from the service, plus a large influx of NQMs. While we welcome the higher number of students and NQMs, we know that we need to ensure that early career midwives are well supported.
We highlighted an example of a maternity service where retiring midwives return for two days a week and are paid to offer support to NQMs. We are delighted that the cabinet secretary has acted upon this suggestion and announced the creation of new ‘experienced practice advisor’ posts in her speech at the SNP party conference in October.
2. Student bursary:
Throughout this year we have joined colleagues from other trade unions and professional bodies at meetings with the Scottish Government to advise how best to support student midwives and nurses financially. We have also highlighted the pressures experienced by students brought about by the low bursary rate, so it was great to see this work pay off when the announcement that not only would the midwifery and nursing bursary continue, but increase to £10,000 a year by 2020.
We have always been clear that we support the recommendations made in the Best start review of maternity and neonatal services and that the only way that these recommendations will be successfully implemented is to provide ring-fenced funding. We have made strong and detailed submissions to Scottish Government outlining the level of investment needed and we are very pleased that they have announced more than £11m additional money to go to boards to support implementation.
It has also been fantastic to celebrate the ‘Midwife of the Year’ at the Scottish Health Awards 2018. Three inspiring midwives were shortlisted: Maureen McSherry from NHS Lanarkshire, Hilary Alba from Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Lesley Scott from NHS Lothian. It was great to see the huge contribution made to improving maternity services by the winner Hilary, who was recognised at the ceremony in November. Congratulations to all the finalists and to perinatal mental health midwife Shona McCann who won the ‘Care for Mental Health Award’.