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Midwives working huge amount of unpaid extra hours – survey

Many midwives are considering quitting as they work extra unpaid hours to keep services running, according to a new report.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said a survey showed that during one week in March midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) in England, Scotland and Wales worked 136,834 extra unpaid hours.

The situation was “unsustainable” and “grossly unfair”, said the RCM, adding that its members were now waiting for a pay announcement from the Government, which was due at the start of April.

Three out of five of over 1,500 RCM members surveyed said their workplace was not safely staffed during those seven days in March.

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More than four out of five said they worked additional unpaid hours, while in some regions in England this increased to nine out of 10.

The RCM said 97% of respondents in the northeast of England said they had worked additional hours unpaid that week, while 93% of members in London worked extra unpaid hours, describing the figures as “shocking”.

In England alone, RCM members worked an extra 118,181 hours during the week in March, an increase of 18% on the same poll undertaken last year.

RCM General Secretary Gill Walton said: “Across the country, maternity services are only being kept running because midwives and maternity support workers are working beyond their hours.

“What’s even worse is that they aren’t getting paid for those hours. Staff are doing their upmost to plug the gaps, but this situation is unsustainable, and it is not the way we should be delivering maternity services.

“Services can’t continue to run on the goodwill of midwives. Aside from the toll that is taking on our members physical and mental health, they are being further demoralised by governments dragging their feet over giving them a pay rise, which is now overdue.

“The Government have disgracefully left hardworking midwives and MSWs in limbo once again about their pay in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

“We’ve told the Government time and time again that improving pay is one of the crucial levers in retaining staff and right now given the staff retention issues facing the NHS they should be doing all they can to ensure staff are paid fairly.”

Half of respondents said they worked up to five additional hours and over a quarter worked between five and 10 hours unpaid across the week of the survey.

Two thirds of those surveyed said they had considered leaving their job as midwife or MSW in the past year, something the RCM described as a “worrying upward trend”.