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Analysis

Midwives leave their mark

27 July, 2009

Midwives leave their mark

International day of the midwife, the equality Bill and the recession... Stuart Bonar provides a round up of the latest political news and how 
it affects midwives.

International day of the midwife, the equality Bill and the recession... Stuart Bonar provides a round up of the latest political news and how 
it affects midwives.


Midwives magazine: August/September 2009

Stuart Bonar




Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) marked the International Day of the Midwife in early May with a debate on midwifery. The debate, secured by the Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing Mary Scanlon MSP was so popular that they voted to extend it, so that all those who wanted to speak could do so.

Contributions were made from across the political spectrum, including the former first minister of Scotland Labour MSP Jack McConnell. Other speakers were Dr Richard Simpson, Angela Constance, Elaine Smith, Nanette Milne, Christine Grahame, Karen Gillon, and Shirley-Anne Somerville. The minister for public health and sport, Shona Robison MSP replied to the debate.

They spoke about maternity issues in the developing world, with a powerful contribution from Jack McConnell, as well as issues closer to home in Scotland. A group of RCM midwives attended the debate in parliament, and were treated to a reception afterwards that many MSPs attended.

Extra protection for breastfeeding on its way Mothers in England are set to get extra protection when breastfeeding in a public place, if a proposed new law makes its way through parliament. The Equality Bill will make it crystal clear in law that women cannot be stopped from breastfeeding.

The Bill passed its first hurdle in May when the Conservative Party, with the exception of Buckingham MP John Bercow voted against it, but all other parties combined to vote it through. It has many hurdles still to clear, including the House of Lords. The RCM is actively pushing, along with other organisations, for parliament to give women in England this extra protection.

Nhs spending to escape the axe? The economic storm that has been battering countries around the globe will shortly wreak its havoc on public spending throughout the UK. Right now, the government is not cutting back as it wants to keep money moving around the economy to get us out of recession. To pay for this, however, public borrowing is hitting £20bn per month, and this will need to be paid back. How? With public spending restraint and cuts in future years.

Thankfully for the NHS, at least in England, it looks like health spending will be among the areas least affected when the axe is wielded. The Conservatives have said that if they take power, they will continue to increase spending on the NHS over and above inflation in future years. Labour is now under immense pressure to match that pledge, especially with an election less than a year away. Will Labour really want to go into an election with their opponents offering more on health spending?

Rcm gets special mention from former speaker The RCM received a special mention from the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin in his farewell remarks to MPs. Speaking about living in parliament with his wife, the Speaker said: ‘We welcomed many voluntary, professional and veterans associations, including the Royal College of Midwives.’ We obviously left our mark! 


Stuart Bonar is the RCM public affairs officer
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