MIDWIVES in England and Wales are to be balloted on industrial action.
The move was announced by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) at its annual Activists Conference in Warwick yesterday following a consultation with members in both countries.
A month-long consultation saw members overwhelmingly reject their governments’ below-inflation pay award.
Two-thirds of eligible members in England and more than eight out of 10 in Wales took part in the consultation, with three-quarters (75%) saying they wanted to be balloted on industrial action.
The RCM will be announcing the dates of the ballots in each country in the coming weeks.
As the announcement was made yesterday the RCM sought to reassure both maternity staff and women and families using maternity services that midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) will not take any type of action that would put women or babies at risk.
The College says that, should its members vote for industrial action, they will not ask members to break their NMC code of conduct and safe services will be maintained.
During previous strike action in 2014 ensuring the delivery of safe services remained paramount.
Dr Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director, Trade Union, at the RCM, said: ‘Our members have spoken and just like us they believe a below inflation pay award is not good enough. They deserve more.
‘The results and turnout speak volumes about the feelings of a fragile, exhausted, and undervalued workforce, because taking industrial action is always the very, last resort for midwives and maternity staff.
‘They obviously now see no other alternative to getting a fair and just pay award from their governments.
‘Our members – along with many other workers across the UK – are sending a very, very clear message to the government and one that must not be ignored any longer. Governments must step in to stop midwives and other staff from leaving the NHS, particularly at a time of a staffing crisis, when maternity services in England alone are short of over 2,000 midwives.
‘One of the ways to do that is by offering these dedicated and committed professionals the inflation-busting pay rise they and their colleagues deserve, not just for their incredible efforts but also because it is the right thing to do to protect them from the ravages of rapidly rising prices and inflation.
‘This is a sign of just how battered and bruised the maternity workforce is, facing unprecedented demands with too few staff and pay falling way behind the soaring cost of living.’