The Royal College of Midwives has today launched a campaign calling on the government to end NHS pay restraint and commit to fully fund a pay rise for midwives and maternity support workers.
It is calling on ministers to end their policy of NHS pay restraint by removing the 1% pay rise cap, which the union said restricted the recommendations that the NHS Pay Review Body could make.
“This is not a request for buckets of money; it is a request for fair pay”
The RCM also wants a commitment to fully fund a pay award that “reflects” the increased cost of living, and the real terms loss of earnings that NHS maternity staff have “suffered since 2010”.
The start of the Fair Pay Overdue campaign is timed to coincide with the RCM’s activists conference in Bristol today.
As part of the campaign, the RCM will be urging its midwife and maternity support worker members to write to their local MP to tell them about the impact of pay restraint.
The RCM said it would also be conducting a pay survey with its members, which will form part of the evidence it will submit to the pay review body in the autumn. The deadline for the survey is 31 July.
It also comes as fellow union the Royal College of Nursing has been holding a series of protests over pay under the “scrap the cap” banner, and a charity warned yesterday that it had seen a rise in nurses seeking financial aid.
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A series of influential figures and organisations have been adding their voices to unions over the summer in calling for better pay for NHS staff, with some indications that the government was beginning to listen in the immediate aftermath of the general election.
- Jeremy Hunt hints at end to pay restraint for NHS nurses
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Government policy has seen the value of pay for the average midwife drop by over £6,000 since 2010, according to the RCM, with increasing inflation set to further reduce the value of pay in future.
In addition, the union highlighted its long-running concerns about maternity workforce shortages, which it linked to poor pay.
It estimated that England was 3,500 full-time midwives short of what was needed, adding that there had also been a collapse in the numbers of European Union midwives applying to work in the UK.
It also cited recent figures showing the number of students applying to train in midwifery had significantly fallen this year, which it said was sparked by the government’s scrapping of the bursary.
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A previous RCM survey published last year suggested that 80% of midwives who were considering leaving the NHS would be persuaded to stay if they had a fair pay rise.
The union said it was crucial the government recognised the need to pay NHS staff fairly in order to recruit and retain the necessary numbers of staff.
Jon Skewes, RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications, said: “The government must commit to fully fund a real-terms pay increase for midwives and NHS staff.
“Anything less will fundamentally damage employment relations in the NHS and will add to the already rock-bottom NHS morale,” he said. “It will further push midwives out of the profession at a time when we already have a shortage of midwives that is getting worse.
“This is not a request for buckets of money; it is a request for fair pay that makes up for years of what are effectively pay cuts,” said Mr Skewes.
“Midwives and maternity support workers work incredibly hard under increasingly challenging circumstances and they are working harder every day while seeing their pay drop,” he said.
“All we are asking for is for midwives, maternity support workers and the whole of the NHS team to be treated fairly for the tremendous job they do every day,” he added.
RCM members went on strike for the first time in its history in 2014, when the government sought to ignore recommendations for a blanket 1% pay rise from the pay review body and instead limit it to those staff not due an increment rise.