Editorial: Reasons to be cheerful

By Jon Skewes on 25 May 2018 Midwives Magazine Pay and Agenda For Change Midwife Shortage

No, not the Ian Dury song, but NHS pay and more midwives.

In the last couple of months real progress has been made on both the RCM’s Fair Pay Overdue campaign and the shortage of midwives and resources. Both speak to the root causes of the pressures on members.

On pay the RCM is consulting on an English proposal, which we negotiated and begins to address the losses suffered over the years of pay restraint. It’s not the end point, it’s the beginning. It’s 3% this year backdated to April, not the 1% of government pay policy. That’s a real increase as inflation falls to 2.5% (March 2018). No one gets less than 6.5% over three years plus a cash sum of 1.1% in year two. The Agenda for Change pay structure is improved in line with trade union demands with higher starting rates in each band and with staff reaching the top point, the rate for the job, more quickly. This is really important as students qualify and enter the NHS with tuition fee debt following the abolition of the bursary. We also successfully fended off employer clamour for reductions in unsocial hours payments and leave. Read more on pay here and here.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will get the funding to negotiate at least as good a deal, dependent on members in England voting to accept as the treasury has made the additional funding of £4.2bn conditional on acceptance. It is the best deal in the public sector and the only one that is additionally funded. So it’s the start of breaking out of government pay policy and with elections up to three years away, there is no alternative.

The second reason to be cheerful is the RCM’s success in campaigning and lobbying for more midwives and MSWs by RCM CEO Gill Walton. Linked to the transformation agenda for greater continuity of carer in England, the secretary of state announced an additional 3000 midwifery training places – an increase of 25% over four years – and steps to bring in a defined role and competencies for MSWs, as well as new training routes and pathways. It’s a long overdue acknowledgement of the need for more investment in people and support, which the RCM made a condition for its support for maternity transformation in England. Read more on this here.

We will now focus on making sure that all the planning and processes are in place to enable the shift from where we are now to where a better resourced service providing better continuity needs to be.

In the words of the song, it’s been and will be ‘a bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it’.