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Maternity staffing crisis could risk safety without action, warns RCM

Maternity staffing crisis could risk safety without action, warns RCM

The Government must fix the worsening staffing shortages in maternity services to ensure patient safety, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has said.

In a motion to the TUC Women’s conference on Friday, the RCM warned that an ‘exodus of midwives from the profession will impede the ability of maternity services to provide acceptable levels of safe, quality care’ is the staffing crisis is ‘allowed to continue’.

The pre-pandemic shortage of 2,000 midwives in England has been exacerbated by Covid, it said, pointing to higher sickness absence and additional pressures on services. An RCM analysis of official figures also showed midwife numbers dropped by over 300 in the year to November 2021, it said.

The motion added: ‘Midwives and maternity support workers are at breaking point. Enormous demands on overstretched maternity services are causing record levels of physical and mental burnout for workers.’

‘Maternity morale low over staffing’

Alice Sorby, director for employment relations at the RCM, said she has ‘never seen morale among our dedicated maternity teams at such a low ebb’.

She continued: ‘We are heading into a vicious cycle of staffing shortage leading to burnout in staff, leading to them thinking of leaving, which will worsen shortages, and so it goes. We must see the Government take action to tackle this crisis.

‘The safest care cannot be delivered without the right numbers of staff, and we haven’t had that in maternity for a long, long time,’ she added.

This comes after an RCM survey of members in October last year found 57% were considering leaving their roles, while 92% said they do not feel their work is valued by the Government.

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