A number of hospitals across the country are forcing senior midwives into lower paid roles to cut costs.
Nursing Times has seen reports from several regions across England where hospitals have told midwives they plan to cut the number of band 7 posts.
Adequate ratios of band 5, 6 and 7 midwives must be maintained
Midwives already working in that band are being told they must reapply for their jobs. If they fail to be appointed to one of the reduced number of senior posts, they are moved to the lower paid band 6.
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Regions where trusts are making the changes include London, the Midlands, South Central, South East, North East and the North West, where University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust has been named as one of those making the cuts.
Royal College of Midwives director of employment relations Jon Skewes said such changes could prompt experienced band 7 midwives to leave the NHS if they are close to retirement. Their replacements are likely to be less skilled and experienced.
Mr Skewes said: “Adequate ratios of band 5, 6 and 7 midwives must be maintained to provide appropriate management and support functions. Where cuts to senior posts are being brought about as a cost saving measure rather than in the interests of the service we would strongly resist them.”
He said changing staff bands where their role and skills remain the same would also be wrong under NHS job evaluation.
Midwives, who did not want to be named, said the changes are being prompted both by service change - for example unit closures - and workforce reviews. Specialist midwife roles are also being reviewed.
One said: “This is very short sighted because they end up with lots of band 5s. With due respect to newly qualified midwives - you need the senior experienced midwife practitioners to bring a focus of quality to midwifery care and promote normal birth.”
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust said it had a higher proportion of senior midwives than necessary. Director of nursing and modernisation Jackie Holt said: “Specifically at Furness General Hospital, we have nearly double the national average of senior midwives with management responsibilities and this comes at a cost.”
Fears over skill mix as trusts force senior midwives into lower bands