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March with Midwives
November 21 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
UK Maternity services in crisis: grassroots movement mobilises thousands in nation-wide vigils to demand urgent govt action
London parents can join in Parliament square on Sunday the 21st of November at 2pm. Stand in solidarity with midwives and healthcare professionals in a call for government action to address the urgent crisis in maternity services.
Midwives in the UK are leaving their profession. Maternity units are closing their doors and the safety of birth in the UK is in crisis as infant and maternal morbidity are on the rise.
Parents are reporting bullying and coercion. Threats are used to ensure compliance and unnecessary medical interventions are at epidemic levels.
Conversely, concerns are being missed and intervention made too late – much of this due to staffing problems.
- An estimated 30,000 birthing people a year experience birth trauma in the UK, with up to 30% of all service users rating their birth as traumatic.
- 2021 has seen maternity services become critically unsafe for staff and users; as of July of this year, 41% of all maternity services are rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” for safety
- Black women have a 4 x higher risk and Asian women have a 2 x higher risk of dying in pregnancy than white women and are more likely to die during the childbearing year
- Women living in the most deprived areas are almost three times more likely to die than those who live in the most affluent areas
- A recent RCM survey of midwives found 60% of staff are thinking of leaving the profession
- For every 30 newly qualified midwives, 29 are leaving, meaning the NHS gains only one extra midwife
- The Royal College of Midwives estimates the UK is short 3,500 midwives and this problem is growing rapidly9; the April 2021 NHS report showed the number of midwives had fallen by 300 in just two months (the fastest fall on record)
- Studies have shown levels of mental health issues among midwives are distressingly high, including PTSD (33%), extreme stress (36.7%), anxiety (38%), and depression (33%). 96% of student midwives reported mental health problems since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Bullying and toxic hierarchical management systems are stifling innovation, silencing whistleblowing and causing psychological harm.
- Top-down pressures that include fear of disciplinary or legal action result in a lack of midwifery autonomy and an erosion of the traditional role of the midwife.
- Midwifery skills are being lost and the profession is being eroded.
- UK Breastfeeding rates are drastically low and continue to fall; the RCM has expressed concern over how the staffing crisis leaves a majority of trusts without sufficient numbers of appropriately trained midwives to help support infant feeding.
Demonstrators this Sunday will be calling on the government to:
LISTEN to all staff and service users and their advocates
FUND emergency retention of staff
ENABLE all qualified midwives who are willing to work and support students to enter training and finish their courses
REDUCE the demands on staff
“The birth of a child should be a wonderful, life-changing time for a mother and
her whole family. It is a time of new beginnings, of fresh hopes and new
dreams, of change and opportunity. It is a time when the experiences we have
can shape our lives and those of our babies and families forever.”
– Julia Cumberlege