RCM survey reveals midwives’ feelings towards pay

By Julie Griffiths on 21 December 2017 NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change

The RCM has today (21 December) published results of a survey undertaken by the RCM to gauge the opinion of midwives and MSWs about their feelings towards their pay.

Some 61% of those RCM members who responded to the survey have said that; ‘they were considering leaving the service in the next one to two years’, however, 80% of those midwives would stay if their pay increased.

Further figures reveal that 98% of respondents said they felt that their organisation is reliant on their and their colleagues’ goodwill and 91% strongly disagreed/disagreed with the statement ‘there are enough staff at my organisation for me to do my job’.

Eighty-four percent of pay survey respondents said if the government did end their policy of public sector pay restraint they would expect the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) to recommend an above-inflationary pay increase.

Worryingly, 35% strongly agreed/agreed with the statement ‘I worry so much about money that it affects my work’, with 89% admitting to using some form of credit and the most common method is credit cards. Half (50%) of respondents are in £5000 or more of debt and 31% are in £10,000 or more of debt.

RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes said: ‘Maternity services continue to rely on the goodwill of midwives and the RCM has warned time and time again that is unsustainable. The impact that seven years of pay restraint has had on employment relations between midwives, MSW’s and the NHS is now hanging by a thread. It is a completely untenable situation, which cannot continue. In 2017 the value of pay for a midwife at the top of band six has decreased by over £6600 since 2010.

‘Midwives and MSWs have told us heart breaking stories about seven years of working in frontline NHS services that show they are overworked, underpaid and at the end of their tether. RCM has collated the responses from our members to this survey on pay and it is evident that they have endured so many years of continued pay restraint that many midwives have left the service already and many more are now considering leaving a profession that so badly needs them due to feeling incredibly undervalued. It is unforgiveable that the government have let morale of midwives plummet so badly that they are considering leaving when we already have a shortage of 3500 midwives.

‘Midwives and MSWs have told the RCM that they feel the government and their employers are taking advantage of the vocational aspects of their job by increasing their workload, restraining their pay and relying on their goodwill to run maternity service. RCM members have made clear that their goodwill is running out. The RCM is deeply concerned of the impact this is already having on midwives leaving the profession.

‘Midwives and MSWs have never been so challenged in their ability to provide high quality and safe care and it is clear from the current and growing staffing crisis that the numbers of new recruits and students places must increase. The pay structure and annual uplift must be good enough to attract new staff into the NHS and students into viewing midwifery as a viable and attractive career option.

‘In the meantime the service also needs to retain existing midwives. It has never been so imperative that the NHSPRB make a recommendation for a fair pay rise so that existing midwives feel valued and stay in the NHS can be retained. A fair pay rise for all NHS staff is the key intervention that could be made now to break the downward spiral of the current staffing crisis.’

‘It has gone on too long now, when I look at old pay slips from eight years ago earning less money now, but the job is more pressurised. The cost of living has not been frozen.’

A midwife from England said: ‘Morale is so low at present and pay restraint just makes us feel even less valued. Occasionally I have loaned colleagues money for petrol so they could travel to visits or because they are on call.’

The RCM has divided its evidence to the NHS PRB into four sections: Government pay policy, The shortage of midwives, The impact of pay restraint, and Midwives’ and maternity support workers’ motivation, satisfaction and engagement.

View the RCM’s survey on pay and the full RCM PRB evidence report here.