RCM survey highlights pressures experienced by Midwives in Scotland

on 11 May 2022

The RCM Scottish Survey Report 2022 has found significant challenges midwives in Scotland are facing, sparking concerns about safety in maternity services.

RCM members in Scotland were invited to take part in the survey which found safety, low staffing and stress some of the biggest issues among members.

The survey results found that 88% of Scottish RCM members have experienced work-related stress, with 75% saying that have considered leaving midwifery.

When it came to accessing training, 41% said they had not been given access to statutory training during work hours, with 82% being told to access this in their own time.

50% of respondents said their hospital or maternity unit ‘rarely’ has safe staffing levels. 45% said there was ‘sometimes’ safe staffing levels.  

Nearly all respondents said they were missing their breaks while on shift, with 52% saying this happens two to three times a week and is becoming a common occurrence.

Commenting on the results, RCM Director for Scotland Jaki Lambert said: “I know midwives and maternity support workers provide excellent care daily to families, but we cannot rely on goodwill alone. This shows deep seated and longstanding issues, certainly worsened by the pandemic which midwives fear are already impacting on the quality of care for women and their babies. There is a worrying catalogue of issues and discontent with an exhausted and a fragile maternity workforce with rock bottom morale. They have also been emotionally and physically battered by the pandemic and left feeling that their work and efforts are not valued. We need to move forward together with the Government from this point.”

Some Scottish RCM members also reported being unable to take a toilet break during their shift that can last up to 12 hours. One respondent in the survey said: “When I say no break, I mean flooding through sanitary products onto my clothing because I cannot take 10 minutes to change my tampon in a 12-hour shift.”

“The pain and anguish of midwives was very difficult to read about and I hope their words are captured in this survey.  It paints a deeply worrying picture of staff that are on their knees and are not currently seeing a way forward or access to the support they need to deliver the safest and best possible care.” Jaki Lambert added.

The RCM Scottish Survey Report 2022 report can be read in full here.