There *is* a magic money tree

By Stuart Bonar, RCM Public Affairs Advisor on 11 January 2018 NHS Funding

You’ll have heard it a thousand times from ministers asked about NHS funding. “We’d love to recruit the midwives we need, but there is no magic money tree.” But, frankly, there are plenty of magic money trees – let me give you just one.

You know those personalised car number plates that people can buy? There is a DVLA website dedicated to selling them, which you can find HERE. Right now I could splash out £1,599 on “ST66 ART” because it’s a bit like my name, Stuart, or I could shell out £999 for “BO17 NAR”, as my surname is Bonar. You get the idea. 

Well, you’d be surprised how much money these sales generate for the Government. In the last financial year, HM Treasury took in over £110 million from the sale of personalised number plates. And that doesn’t include the VAT on them either, so the true figure is even higher. We have taken this figure, by the way, from the answer to a recent parliamentary question, which you can find HERE – so, it’s official. In total, over half a billion pounds in public money has been raised since 2010.

That £110m could have paid for 2,330 full-time midwives – and not just their salaries, but their employers’ national insurance and pension contributions too. For this we’re using the Government’s own estimate of the average cost of employing a midwife, which they provided in answer to another parliamentary question, HERE – so, again, it’s official.

Our most recent estimate is that we are short of the equivalent of 3,500 full-time midwives. So, crunch all these numbers and you’ll discover that the money from the sale of personalised number plates could have paid for two-thirds of the midwives we need.

This is, frankly, money for nothing. It *is* a magic money tree. And the Government should put it to good use, employing midwives to help drive down that shortage and drive up the quality of maternity care that women are receiving.