RCM calls for end to unpaid overtime in TUC Congress motion

on 12 September 2023 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government England MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Staff On Employment Caring For You campaign Midwife Shortage NHS England Staffing Levels Stress

RCM calls for end to unpaid overtime in TUC Congress motion

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the Government to end unpaid overtime in the NHS. Speaking to the motion, RCM workplace representative Toni Wood told the TUC Congress in Liverpool that midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) across England give 100,000 hours of extra unpaid work to the NHS each week, and called for maternity staff to be paid, and fairly, for extra hours.

“Midwives and MSWs are going above and beyond working extra unpaid hours every week to ensure women, babies and families get the best possible care. They do this because they are dedicated and care passionately about what they do,” said Alice Sorby, the RCM’s Director for Employment Relations. “Maternity services are functioning to a large extent on the goodwill of staff doing these extra hours, but they should not be expected to do it for free. We are already seeing the impact of excessive workloads, with exhaustion and burnout contributing to the exodus of staff from the profession. It must stop.”

To cover staffing shortages employers are also increasingly imposing on-call systems on staff on their days off to cover for shortages. This is in essence forced overtime, which hits the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, says the RCM. It will ultimately worsen the staffing crisis by pushing more midwives and MSWs out of the NHS.

The RCM motion, which was accepted by the Congress, also called for measures to  support retention and the health and safety of staff, such as more flexible working.

A second RCM motion, proposed by Keelie Barrett, MSW advocate and member of the RCM Board, focused on widening access to midwifery through apprenticeships. The motion called on the Government to back up their welcome commitments to the expansion of midwifery apprenticeships in the NHS Long term Workforce Plan, along with better financial support for student midwives. It also calls for action to address the shortage of midwifery educators, with insufficient numbers of them to deliver the education and training needed for the growing numbers of student midwives.

The RCM also spoke in support of motions on investment in public services and the COVID-19 inquiry

More information on the TUC Congress is at TUC Congress 2023 | TUC.
See also the RCM’s flexible working guidance at flexible-working-guidance3.pdf (rcm.org.uk) and More flexible working will support staff retention says RCM.