MIDWIVES launched their manifesto yesterday, calling on the next government to invest in maternity services and protect the rights of EU migrants working in the NHS.
Ensuring better outcomes for pregnant women tops the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) list of five “asks.”
This commitment includes guaranteeing that women will be able to see the same midwives during and after pregnancy.
The union said that this is currently hard to achieve because of midwife shortages, undermining the safety of care.
Midwives warned that staff shortages have consequences and that “improvements in the quality and safety of maternity care are dependent upon eliminating the shortage.”
The NHS in England is short of about 3,500 midwives despite the birth rate rising and care becoming more complex.
The manifesto highlights the important public-health role played by midwives, which the RCM says is being undermined by cuts.
It also urged the government to act immediately to secure the right to remain after Brexit for the 1,300 midwives from EU countries currently working in the NHS in England.
Like many NHS staff, pay is high on the agenda for midwives, and the RCM has estimated that midwives have seen a real-terms pay cut of £6,000 since 2010.
The manifesto calls for the NHS pay review body to be allowed to make recommendations on pay without interference from the government — and that government should honour those recommendations.
“RCM chief executive officer Cathy Warwick said: ‘We are calling on the government in power after the election to invest in the NHS, invest in maternity services and invest in midwives and maternity support workers.
“Services need to be given the resources to meet the demands they are facing. At the moment this is not the case and the safety and quality of care that many women receive is simply not good enough.”
Ms Warwick warned the next government to ditch the Tories’ “pay freezes and pay restraint that means our midwives and other NHS staff are significantly worse off,” adding that “investing in staff is an investment in the NHS and an investment in patient care.”
The RCM will be sending all election candidates a copy of its manifesto, encouraging them to sign up.