How to become a maternity support worker
What is a Maternity Support Worker and what do they do?
A Maternity Support Worker (MSW) is an unregistered employee providing support to a maternity team, mothers and their families. The MSW undertakes duties in a maternity setting, under the direction and supervision of a registered midwife, for which midwifery training and registration are not required. MSWs complement the care that midwives provide to mothers and babies.
The title MSW is the most commonly used title to describe a support worker in maternity but there are a range of alternative role descriptions in use that refer to the same role. In Scotland, the most commonly used title is Maternity Care Assistant.
Maternity support workers can be NHS Agenda for Change banded at 2, 3 or 4.
The MSW (Band 2) can carry out a range of tasks that focus on housekeeping, administration and the personal care of mothers and babies. They will work in a range of maternity settings under the direct supervision of a midwife.
The MSW (Band 3) will undertake a range of delegated clinical duties. These may be in addition to the tasks undertaken in a Band 2 MSW role. They may work in a range of maternity settings, including delivering care to mothers and babies in their homes in the absence of a midwife.
The MSW (Band 4), in addition to the duties that a MSW (Band 3) could undertake, will have additional responsibilities that require higher communication and organisational skills. Examples include: leading on a public health initiative, e.g. smoking cessation or having responsibility for the training and development of other MSWs.
How do I become a Maternity Support Worker?
MSW posts are advertised on NHS Jobs. You could also make enquiries at your local NHS Trust/Board for any vacancies.
There are no set entry requirements for a Band 2 or Band 3 MSW post. Employers will expect good standards of numeracy and literacy and may request GCSEs or equivalent. Employers may ask for a qualification in health and social care, nursery nursing or childcare, such as CACHE, NNEB, BTEC or NVQ or they may expect you to be prepared to undertake a qualification. Band 4 MSW posts will require evidence of education to diploma level.
Employers may ask for experience of working with children and families or within a care setting. Experience in customer care may also be required. This can be either or paid or voluntary work.
Many NHS employers use values-based recruitment. This approach helps attract and select employees whose personal values and behaviours align with those of the NHS. These include being caring, patient and accepting other people's lifestyles. The employer will also be looking for the ability to work under pressure and follow instructions and procedures.
The education and training offered to you will be dependent on the UK country in which you are working.
An apprenticeship is one training route to becoming a maternity support worker. The RCM contributed to the development of the new MSW Apprenticeship Standard, part of the Senior Healthcare Support Worker Apprenticeship standard.
The RCM have long championed the need for maternity support staff to have access to appropriate learning and development opportunities. We therefore welcome quality apprenticeships, which are rightly becoming a growing feature of the NHS workforce across the UK. MSW Apprenticeships are available in England only.
- Read a case study of Nicola Spencer, an MSW Apprentice from Guy’s and St Thomas in London
- Read a case study of Denise Amey, a Maternity Support Worker who completed her apprenticeship at Poole Maternity Hospital
For more information, visit our Apprenticeships page.
Maternity Support Worker Week
This is an annual event run by the RCM, which raises awareness of support workers in maternity, highlighting how integral they are to the maternity team. The initiative also educates MSWs on the importance of belonging to our union and professional organisation.