March with Midwives

For months, if not years, NHS midwives and maternity bodies like the Royal College of Midwives has asked the government for more funding, more staff and more service provisions. Maternity care is struggling across the UK right now, and now we are pleading for support. 

On Sunday 21 November, midwives will be holding peaceful vigils in city centres around the country as part of a campaign recently launched called March with Midwives UK. The nation’s midwives are taking action to "preserve the women in their care and their profession from desperate and dangerous staffing shortages". 

The UK staffing crisis is real. We are over 2,300 full time midwife equivalents short in the country. We are training more staff to be qualified with the degree, but people are leaving the profession faster than they qualify. The population more likely to leave are those newly qualified staff, citing lack of support as reasons for leaving, and I personally know many that already have. On top of that, experienced staff members are also retiring as the workforce is largely skewed towards retirement. A recent RCM survey of midwives found that 57% are considering leaving in the next year. Wards are already struggling, so to imagine a further drop will be unfathomable. 

I recently read a passage from a fellow midwife and I thought it was really touching: "If you’re pregnant, do not worry. Your midwife is working through their break to provide you with safe care. They are skipping putting their kids to bed because they’re documenting the care provided after their 12 hour shift because there’s no time to do it during. Night staff are comforting the day staff after a day of not being able to provide the care they want to give. They are sacrificing down time to do training on days off to make sure they’re up to date with guidance." 

This is just the piece de la resistance. I can't even count the number of times I've worked over my break, stayed late after work to write up and of course, not had adequate food, drink or toilet visits. I do it because I love the job and I know if I didn't, women would suffer...but I shouldn't have to. 

March with Midwives is a nationwide vigil to raise awareness and show support for midwives and healthcare professionals who are working under enormous strain. It is open to anyone who cares about maternity services including women, birthing people and families. It is a peaceful, family-friendly event, hoping to enact change. 

Of course, I'm working the day of the event, but if you get the opportunity to attend one of your local events please do. Even if it's just to show the midwives there that they have your support. I know they will appreciate it.