Midwives in England and Wales will be voting this week to decide whether to take action over the government’s decision to reject the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff. The RCM is recommending that its members vote Yes to industrial action.
The poll shows that 63% of the British public would support a midwife strike, provided that arrangements were made to ensure that any pregnant woman in need of immediate care during the period of the industrial action received care as usual.
There is also overwhelming backing for a 1% increase to NHS staff pay, with four in five (80%) polled saying they would support the pay rise.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, believes the poll will reassure any midwives concerned about a public backlash, saying: “Midwives deciding whether to vote for industrial action will be reassured that there is wide support for them across the country, with the public backing industrial action.”
Warwick also insists that a 1% pay rise is affordable and merited: “Midwives’ pay was frozen in 2011 and 2012,” she said. “After a one per cent rise last year, midwives are facing another pay freeze this year.
“Midwives cannot take another year of rising household bills and frozen pay. A 1% rise, as recommended by the independent Pay Review Body, is affordable. It is the very least midwives deserve for all they do.
“This public backing fills me with hope for our campaign and our ballot and I am sure it will be welcomed by midwives. I do however want to reassure women and their families that they will continue to receive safe care during any industrial action. The woman, her baby and their safety are a midwife’s absolute priority and any action will not change that.”