“The pandemic has exposed the extent and the impact on care of this crumbling infrastructure.”
Jon Skewes, Executive Director for External Relations at the RCM
Tackling Scotland’s social deprivation and inequalities by investing in maternity services and staff must be at the heart of the next Scottish Government’s policy. This is the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in a Blueprint for maternity services .
In five areas for action, it also calls for an end to Scotland’s midwife shortage, saying some areas of the country struggle to attract enough midwives.
The pandemic has also exposed starkly existing inequalities hitting vulnerable women and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Maternity and other areas of healthcare have a key role to play in efforts to address these inequalities, says the RCM
The RCM’s five areas for action for the next Scottish Government are:
- tackling social deprivation;
- delivering the best maternity care for all the people of Scotland;
- supporting NHS staff to recover from the pandemic;
- ensuring Scotland has birthplaces that are fit for the future; and
- ending Scotland’s midwife shortage for good.
The Blueprint says the pandemic ‘has been brutal’ on maternity and other NHS staff, who have worked throughout to ensure safe and high-quality care for women. This has hit their mental and physical health and they must be given the time and support to recover from it.
Jon Skewes, Executive Director for External Relations at the RCM, said:
“There has been a monumental effort from midwives, maternity support workers, and maternity care assistants through the pandemic. It is time to step-up and really invest in them, in their pay and in their working conditions.
“Right now, we have a demoralised and exhausted workforce and women falling through the cracks and not getting the care they deserve.
“Staff are also often working in old, poorly designed buildings that are simply not fit for purpose. The pandemic has exposed the extent and the impact on care of this crumbling infrastructure.”
The next Scottish Government must assess and refresh the NHS’s physical estate for maternity care. This provides an opportunity to provide women in Scotland with more choice over where to give birth, including in purpose-built midwife-led units
Blueprint for better maternity care in Scotland
Additional training places for student midwives are also needed in more of Scotland’s universities. When they qualify new midwives generally stay within the regions they trained in leaving the chances of recruiting staff stacked against other areas without midwifery courses.
Jon Skewes added:
“Tackling deprivation goes way beyond maternity and the wider NHS. Fixing it must be done through multiple channels including social care, education, and others.
“Maternity is a very good place to start improving the health of the nation, reduce inequalities and indeed, save lives that should not be lost.
“This has been a really tough year for the NHS and the people using it as it creaked under the weight of pandemic demands. It has also been a remarkable year because of how its staff and the service responded.
“Now is the time to invest to make it fit for the future.”