The public strongly supports all NHS staff being given a 1% pay rise and back planned industrial action, according to a survey carried out by midwife leaders.
Members of the Royal College of Midwives are due to join other health workers in taking strike action on 13 October in protest at the government’s refusal to pay a recommended 1% wage increase to all health employees in England.
It will be the first time midwives have gone on strike, and they will join ambulance drivers, nurses, paramedics, hospital porters and other health workers in taking action.
“After their historic vote to take strike action, our midwives will be reassured by this further vote of confidence from the public”
A poll of more than 2,000 members of the public in the 40 most marginal Conservative/Labour parliamentary seats showed strong public backing for a pay rise for NHS staff. It was carried out for the RCM by ComRes.
Over four-fifths supported a 1% rise, while two-thirds agreed with midwives taking industrial action as a sign of protest against the government.
A further poll of 100 MPs, carried out by Dods Polling for the RCM, showed that 71% believed all NHS staff should receive a 1% pay rise, including most Tory MPs.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “After their historic vote to take strike action, our midwives will be reassured by this further vote of confidence from the public. They will also take to heart the fact that MPs support the recommended modest pay rise for NHS staff.
“That so many Conservative MPs are in favour of the pay award that has been rejected should sound alarm bells at the highest level. We really do want to get back to talking about this with the government,” she said. “The truth is investing in staff leads to good outcomes for the people the NHS serves and this is something we all want.
“The Pay Review Body said that this pay increase is affordable for the NHS. Midwives and other NHS staff certainly deserve this very modest pay increase and the public support them in this also,” she added.
“As we move towards industrial action by midwives I do want to reassure women and their families that they will continue to receive safe care. The woman, her baby and their safety are a midwife’s absolute priority and any action will not change that,” said Professor Warwick.
The strike will be for four hours, mainly affecting England, although health staff in Wales and Northern Ireland are also involved in the dispute. The government is facing three days of national strikes, with council workers walking out on the 14th, and civil servants on the 15th in separate disputes over pay, jobs and cuts.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we’ve increased the NHS budget to pay for thousands more clinical staff since 2010, including more than 1,700 more midwives since May 2010.
“We want to protect these increases and cannot afford a pay rise on top of increments - which disproportionately reward the highest earners – without risking frontline jobs,” they said.
“We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer,” they added.