EU referendumThe Royal College of Midwives (RCM) chief executive Cathy Warwick will join Prime Minister David Cameron today, to travel across England visiting health venues ahead of tomorrow’s EU referendum.

The RCM first announced its support of remaining in the EU in April, and as a union the RCM argues that being part of the EU has led to better working conditions, and will ensure these remain in place.

These benefits include equal pay for women, a guarantee that pregnant women get paid time off to attend antenatal appointments, minimum holiday entitlements, maternity rights, and protection for those working part-time. These are rights worth protecting, and so long as the UK remains in the EU they are rights that the UK Government cannot take away.

Remaining in the EU also helps to maintain safety in the NHS and promotes high standards among healthcare professionals.

There are over 33,000 midwives and nurses from other EU countries working in the NHS. EU rules mean that they must have training and skills equal to UK trained staff. This helps to ensure high standards and good quality care in our NHS.

Healthcare colleagues from across the EU also help to fill the vacancies on our maternity units and wards.

Commenting on the issue, Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, says; “The RCM has backed remaining in the EU as there are clear and positive reasons why the EU is good for pregnant women, for working people and the NHS.

“Free European Health Insurance Cards, for example, mean we can access emergency medical treatment in other European countries. Pregnant women can also use the cards for routine maternity care, and if they give birth early and unexpectedly it also covers the medical costs of birth.

“We also cannot forget about the huge economic implication for Britain if we vote to leave the EU. The consequences are wide-reaching, worrying and will not only affect those who work in the NHS but also those who so badly need the services that the NHS provides.

“If we vote to leave, the Government will inevitability have less to spend on public services including the NHS. Less money means fewer midwives and frontline staff, even more years of pay freezes and an immediate risk to pensions.

“The definition of a midwife is also written into EU law, meaning the status of the profession is protected right across the continent. Minimum requirements for training are also written down at the European level, ensuring better training standards across Europe. All this helps protect not only the profession but the standard of care women receive while pregnant.

“I think it’s vital we remain in the EU, I believe midwifery in the UK is stronger for it, I believe patient care is safer because of it and I believe working conditions are better as a result of it.

“To me, the benefits of staying in and the risks of leaving are both crystal clear. Staying in is better for the NHS, it is better for women, and it is better for midwives. We are better off in.”


Further reading:
‘Why the RCM backs “REMAIN” in the EU referendum’, a blogpost by Jon Skewes, RCM's director for policy, employment relations and communications