march with the midwives
Press Releases and Research

Parliamentary Briefing – Experiences Of Midwives Adjournment Debate

Experiences of midwives in the NHS adjournment debate
(17 January 2022)
This briefing seeks to inform and equip MPs with evidence that we need a credible plan for the recruitment and retention of midwives, to better protect the mental and physical health of midwives, but also to improve outcomes for pregnant women and new parents in the UK.

The adjournment debate on the 17th of January on “Experiences of midwives in the NHS” is a critical moment to ensure the UK Government addresses systemic underfunding within maternity and postnatal services and demonstrates their commitment to women’s health. This is an important issue for the UK with the debate following a national vigil in November in towns and cities across the UK and a petition with more than 120,000 signatures.


  1. Background


Throughout the pandemic, Pregnant then Screwed has been listening to the voices of tens of thousands of pregnant women and new mothers who have shared heart-breaking stories with us about the impact that a shortage of midwives has had on their pregnancy and birth experience. 


The pandemic has created some new issues for maternity services in the UK but we need to be clear that the majority of issues are exacerbated, pre-existing issues. The crisis in the UK’s midwifery services is a result of long-standing, structural issues that need to be addressed. 


The Government’s: ‘Building back better and levelling up’ focus must include treating pregnant women and those who deliver their care as a priority. The pandemic has highlighted how fundamental the NHS is for the UK – it is critical that investment is made now to ensure all women are able to access a safe level of care.
Maternity care is in crisis 
  • The Royal College of Midwives estimates that for every 30 newly qualified midwives, 29 are leaving, meaning the NHS gains only one extra midwife.
  • 2021 saw maternity services become critically unsafe for staff and users; in July the Quality Care Commission released a report that found 41% of all maternity services were rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” for safety
Patients deserve better
Without adequate staffing levels the risk of birth trauma is high and the effects of this can be long lasting

A January 2022 survey by Pregnant Then Screwed of 6906 pregnant women and those who became new mothers in the month prior to the survey found that: 
  • 38.5% respondents said the closure or reduction of health visitor services has caused them stress
  • 65% of respondents reported that their Trust or Health Board currently had maternity restrictions in place with 98% of respondents saying that the possibility of further restrictions on maternity services is causing them anxiety
New mother Jessica Bramley shared her story with us highlighting what a shortage of staff can mean for mothers giving birth

I was alone on the ward afterwards for eight hours until my husband was allowed a one hour visiting slot. I then rushed through everything as fast as possible so I could get home. This is nowhere near as long as others have spent alone I’m sure! The time on the ward however was awful (and seems to be the experience of every other woman I’ve spoken to) taking approximately 15 minutes for staff to come after ringing for help for someone to arrive, I never got the ‘tea and toast’ after giving birth until breakfast time arrived the next day (I gave birth at 8pm), left unable to pick up my projectile vomiting baby because of my spinal, when I was discharged I was still covered in blood and my baby’s poo (because I was told my cannula meant I wasn’t allowed to wash apparently?!). The hospital was downgraded to inadequate shortly afterwards.”

That is why we are calling upon the Government to invest in a credible plan for the recruitment and retention of midwives

Press Releases and Research

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