Midwifery students gather around a fake baby. The RCM is urging politicians to invest in midwives

Royal College of Midwives urges Government to invest in future midwives

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling on political parties to improve maternity care by addressing the financial and employment challenges facing midwifery students.

The RCM emphasises that the next government must alleviate student debt and ensure new graduates have job opportunities, forming a strong foundation for the midwifery profession.

RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton warned that the financial burden of student debt threatens the future of the midwifery workforce.

She said: “If we want to build a midwifery profession that’s fit for the future, we have to invest in our students. 

“My genuine worry is that some of this generation of students won’t become midwives at all because the financial burden is just too great.”

The RCM proposes that the next government should forgive student debt for midwives who commit to working in the NHS.

The demanding nature of midwifery degrees often leaves students with no time for part-time or summer jobs, placing them at a financial disadvantage. 

Walton added: “In Scotland alone, more than a third of students are so worried about their finances they struggle to sleep at night. 

“This is affecting their mental health and causing them to drop out of their courses.”

In addition to financial concerns, the RCM reports that many final-year students struggle to find employment after graduation despite an estimated shortage of 2,500 midwives in England alone. 

Walton stated: “Never before have newly qualified midwives been so badly needed, yet incredibly, not every student has a job to go to once they qualify.”

According to an RCM report, the NHS workforce in England rose by 14.1% between December 2019 and March 2023, up almost 160,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff. 

Yet the number of midwives rose just 1.1%, with only 247 additional midwives over the same period. 

If midwifery had had the same boost as the rest of the workforce, England’s NHS would have had the equivalent of more than an extra 3,100 full-time midwives.

The RCM also stresses the importance of investing in midwifery education and educators. 

Improved coordination between the health and higher education sectors is needed to ensure the effective transfer of skills and experience to students. 

The College has introduced a neurodivergence toolkit to support neurodivergent students and a decolonising curriculum toolkit aimed at promoting equity in midwifery education and practice. 

These initiatives are designed to recruit and support students from diverse backgrounds and ensure that midwifery education is inclusive and reflective of different skin colours.

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