‘Equality for all choice for some? asks the RCM at its annual Dilemma Debate’

By RCM on 28 June 2017 Women's Choice Dilemma Debate Better Births Initiative Maternity Services

Tonight the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will host its Annual Dilemma Debate. This years debate is entitled; Equality for all choice for some? Are pressures on healthcare exacerbating the inverse care law?

The debate is set to be a lively and informative discussion  on the relationship between choice of maternity care and social class. At this debate a panel of experts, practitioners and opinion formers will consider whether current pressures on the NHS are eroding the ideal of choice and personalised care for all.

Choice is presented as a universal right, but is the reality that only those with the sharpest elbows and loudest voices able to exercise choice and control over their care? With the emergence of personal maternity budgets, will it be possible to give more women choice or will this simply entrench existing privileges?

The debate will be chaired by journalist Susan Bookbinder and other panellists include;

  • Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE -Head of Maternity, Children & Young People, NHS England.
  • Catherine McLennan - Programme Director, Maternity and Gynaecology, Cheshire and Merseyside Women's and Children's Partnership.
  • Rebecca Schiller - Chief Executive, Birthrights.
  • Zoe Williams - Journalist, The Guardian.

Commenting, RCM’s Head of Policy and Social Affairs, Sean O’ Sullivan says; “Tonight’s debate will highlight the question of a relationship between choice of maternity care and social class. The concept of choice has been central to maternity debates about maternity policy for over 30 years now. Successive Governments have placed choice of type and location of care at the heart of maternity policy.”

“The most recent of these polices was The Better Births National Maternity review for England, which has gone further and proposes personal maternity care budgets as a driver for enhancing women’s choices whilst increasing the number of providers that women can choose from.

“The RCM believes in choice for all women throughout their maternity care, we believe women should be at the very centre of their maternity care.

“However, we also know that outcomes for maternity care and women’s experiences of maternity care can differ greatly according to social class and social inequalities across the UK. We also remain 3,500 midwives short in England alone and maternity services right across the UK are struggling to cope with demands.

The RCM therefore hopes that this debate will explore how austerity, underfunding and staffing shortages are affecting the ability of maternity services to support women to act on the choices they want.”


More information on the RCM’s Dilemma Debate is available here: https://www.rcm.org.uk/get-involved/events/rcm-dilemma-debate


The RCM Dilemma Debate Equality for all or choice for some? Are pressures on healthcare exacerbating the inverse care law?


Location: TUC, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London,WC1B 3LS



Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.