Strong, effective midwifery leadership key to better, safer maternity care RCM midwifery leadership manifesto launched
Everyone agrees we must strive to make NHS maternity care the best and the safest it can be. It’s important. Hundreds of thousands of babies are born each year, making childbirth one of the most common reasons for admission to hospital and our maternity services truly a ‘shop window’ for the NHS. And getting maternity care wrong can and does have profoundly severe consequences, damaging lives and costing lives.
A vital part of delivering the ongoing improvement we all want is strong, effective midwifery leadership.
Despite this, the midwifery voice can find it hard to be heard at the highest levels of decision making, both at the level of the trust or health board, and within the health service more generally.
This needs to change, and in the document we launch today, Strengthening midwifery leadership: a manifesto for better maternity care, the Royal College of Midwives sets out seven steps to achieve just that.
We want to see (1) a Director of Midwifery in every trust or health board, and more Heads of Midwifery across the service. This would embed midwifery leadership in every part of the NHS that delivers maternity care. We are calling for (2) a lead midwife at a senior level in all parts of the NHS, both nationally and regionally – in those NHS bodies that monitor services, plan the future workforce, regulate staff, and so on.
We want (3) more consultant midwives, driving improvements in the provision of maternity care in every corner of the NHS. (4) More specialist midwives are needed too, in every trust and health board; these are midwives who have expert knowledge and skills and can help tackle problems like smoking, female genital mutilation, substance misuse, and maternal mental health issues
All of this needs to built on a foundation of (5) strengthening and supporting sustainable midwifery leadership in education and research, recognising the fundamental role played by our universities in training and developing our midwives and midwifery leaders of the future. That process would be further assisted by (6) a commitment to fund ongoing midwifery leadership development, with clear career progression and personal development in leadership and management to help attract, create and retain talent.
And finally (7) professional input from the RCM in the appointment of midwife leaders, echoing a convention already routine for medical royal colleges and which would help ensure our midwifery leaders enjoy credibility with their professional colleagues.
Those are the seven practical steps in our midwifery leadership manifesto that will help deliver the strong, effective midwifery voice that is needed to secure the improvements that we all want to see. And you can read it in full here.