Midwife scandalFollowing the announcement from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) that its members have voted in favour of strike action, NHS Employers has issued a response saying that it regrets the result but welcomes RCM cooperation.

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “It is regrettable that members of the Royal College of Midwives have agreed to take industrial action along with some of the other NHS trades unions.
“Employers will be concerned that this industrial action could worry pregnant women. However we welcome indications from the RCM that its members will continue to provide cover on maternity wards and work with local employers now to ensure that services can be maintained safely on the day of the proposed action.”

Midwives will be joining other NHS workers in England in a strike over pay next month. The Royal College of Midwives announced yesterday that 82% of its members voted in favour - the first time they have ever been balloted on industrial action.

They will join other staff, including nurses, healthcare assistants and porters, in the 13 October walk-out. The strike will last four hours, but the RCM said midwives will still be there for women giving birth.

Instead, it will be ante-natal and post-natal appointments that will be affected by the strike which starts at 7am. It follows last week's announcement that the members of both Unison and Unite, which represent nearly 400,000 workers between them, had voted in favour of taking action.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a resounding yes from our members. It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest 1% pay increase.

“Our members have suffered three years of pay restraint and face the prospect that their pay in 2016 will only be 1% higher than it was in 2010.The recommendations from all public sector pay review bodies have been followed except those for health workers. This is not acceptable. There is still time to come back to the negotiating table and to take a more reasonable position on the PRB recommendation.

“The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe. ”

A recent poll showed that four-fifths (80%) of the British public say they would support a 1% pay rise for NHS staff.  The poll also showed that around two-thirds (63%) would support industrial action by midwives, as a sign of protest against the decision not to increase their salaries by 1%. This is provided that arrangements are made to ensure that any pregnant woman in need of immediate care during the period of the industrial action received care as usual.