Labour has said that midwives have been “let down” by the government after research showed that they are routinely missing meals and delaying toilet breaks due to not having enough time.
Responding to survey results published today by the Royal College of Midwives, Labour’s Justin Madders declared that the government has failed to get to grips with “chronic workforce shortages” across the health service.
The data showed that 87% of RCM members who responded said that they delayed going to the toilet, while 77% reported skipping meals – of whom a quarter said that they did so “always” or “most of the time”.
Commenting on the findings, Madders said: “This is deeply concerning and shows not only how our amazing midwives go above and beyond every single day but also how they are being let down by a government that has simply failed to deal with the chronic workforce shortages in the NHS.
“We are short of 2,500 midwives in the NHS in England which, against an overall staffing shortfall of over 100,000, is forcing staff to do more and more and putting them under ever increasing strain.
“The government needs to come up with a credible staffing plan otherwise we risk losing many of these dedicated people to burnout.”
The information given by respondents also revealed that 52% of midwives felt dehydrated “most or all of the time” at work because they don’t have enough time to get a drink, and that 37% said they “never” or “rarely” take their entitled breaks.
Employment relations adviser at the RCM Alice Sorby said: “Midwives are putting their own health and wellbeing on the line to ensure that women and babies get the care they need – but it shouldn’t be either/or.
“The NHS should be doing all it can to promote staff retention and support our members’ health in the workplace so they can deliver the very best care to women and their babies.”
Sorby added that the pandemic has “undoubtedly increased the pressure on midwives, some of whom have been working additional hours unpaid just to keep maternity services open and running”.