The big conversation: we hear you

By Gill Walton, Suzanne Tyler on 03 September 2018 Midwives Magazine RCM

RCM CEO Gill Walton and director of services to members Suzanne Tyler offer big thanks to all the midwives who took part in The Big Conversation and talk about the future for OUR RCM.

During march, April and May this year, RCM members everywhere were engaged in The Big Conversation. We met you at workplace meetings and branch events, and you spoke to us through our online survey, through Facebook and Twitter. The aim was to listen to and learn from you – our members, the people who make OUR RCM the powerful and respected force that it is – as well as about what’s going well and what needs to improve to strengthen our collective voice, our networks and our passion for midwifery care.

You confirmed what we have been saying loud and clear: it’s tough in maternity services but, despite that, good things are happening. There are promises for more staff and better pay; however, these are yet to be felt in the working experience of midwives and MSWs. We heard that access to training and development is limited, and that undermining behaviours and bullying remain far too prevalent. We heard that leaders and managers are struggling too. In relation to OUR RCM, we heard that we don’t always communicate as clearly with you as we could, and we are not always as visible as you want us to be at local level.

You said you wanted us to do more to promote positive images of midwives and MSWs, to champion the role of the midwife where it is under attack, to fight for respect, strong leadership and a true culture of learning, and to do more to share good practice and innovation to strive for improvement. You said we needed to shout more about what is wrong in maternity, and at the same time do more to show a positive image and celebrate the work you do.

Passionate commitment

You told us that our three key overarching priorities of safety, partnership and leadership are the right ones. That we can only ensure safe, high-quality care where midwives and MSWs are able to give their best through supportive, compassionate leadership and partnership based on trust and respect, not hierarchies.

We are taking note of all this: we will work harder to foster good relationships with the RCOG and others at local as well as national level; we will hold the government to account to deliver on its promises around pay and staffing; and we will have a major campaign next year to raise the profile of leadership at all levels.

We heard that many of you remain passionate, committed and positive about the work you do and the care you give. We heard that you feel privileged to be involved in the care of women and their families, and that some teams work well and pull together with mutual respect and support. Joint meetings among the multidisciplinary team, excellent role models and flattened hierarchies do exist and do make a difference. We will do more to search these out and publicise them to showcase what you are doing in a world dominated by bad news stories.

We heard that the RCM awards are the way to highlight and celebrate best practice, that our i-learn and i-folio resources are giving you access to CPD, and that making conference free to attend has widened your ability to participate. We will continue to review and refresh our membership offer to ensure we give you value for money.

The Big Conversation outputs have helped your elected board determine overall strategy for the next five years:

  • Listen to and learn from members so that we can effectively lead and influence
  • Deliver products and services that offer value for money and meet the individual and collective needs of all our members
  • Actively grow and build networks, alliances and partnerships.

At conference, we will deliver a fuller report and outline how we intend to act on the messages you have given us. But this cannot be the end of The Big Conversation. The RCM is committed to conversations with all our members over the months and years to come. Only together can we ensure OUR RCM is an organisation we can all be proud to be part of. 

Key themes emerging from The Big Conversation

  • Pay and working conditions
  • Staffing levels
  • Education and training
  • Leadership and management
  • Culture
  • Communication
  • Improving maternity practices
  • Increasing RCM visibility