The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has announced that it will begin consulting its members on the Welsh Government’s NHS pay offer from today.
The consultation, which the RCM opened for members online and will run until 27 February, will ask members for their view on whether the union and trade body should accept or reject this latest offer. The RCM has said it is currently making no recommendations about whether or not its members should accept the offer.
This comes after the Welsh Government made a new offer on 3 February, offering a 3% pay rise on top of the rate recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body last June of just over 4%. Following the Government’s improved offer, the RCM announced it would suspend action short of an RCM strike scheduled to begin on 7 February.
While the RCM says the offer does not include everything the union was looking for, it is ‘the best offer that can be obtained through negotiations and without sustained industrial action’.
If accepted, the pay offer would give midwives, medical support workers, and other NHS staff in Wales a consolidated (permanent) pay rise of around 5.5% on top of a bonus payment of a 1.5% rise backdated to April 2022.
The deal also includes a commitment to restore rates of pay to 2008 levels. The Trade Union Congress estimates that the average midwife has lost £56,000 in real earnings since 2008.
The Welsh Health Minster Eluned Morgan also offered commitments to increase the pay of Welsh midwives further if the Westminster Government made a higher pay offer for NHS staff in England.
Julie Richards, RCM director for Wales, said: ‘The incredible determination of our members to make a stand and take action brought the Welsh Government back to the table, and resulted in this improved offer. It is only right that they now have their say on whether to accept or reject it.
‘This dispute is not only about pay. Our maternity services are struggling to retain midwives and MSWs who are demoralised because they cannot deliver the care needed for women and babies. They are burnt-out and cannot take the enormous pressures they face any longer and the damage it is dong to their physical and mental health.’
Beyond pay, the Welsh Government has also put forward a package of measures within the offer which are hoped to address many areas of concern to the midwifery workforce.
The extra measures include a commitment to look at staffing levels to address growing shortages, more flexible working, a commitment to look at reducing working hours with no loss of pay, and a reinstatement of unsocial hours allowances.