The government should be ashamed of the levels of student midwife debt, the RCM chief executive has said in the opening speech to the organisation’s conference.
‘It should frankly shame the Government in England who have effectively left students facing thousands of pounds worth of debt when they qualify,’ said Gill Walton, the RCM chief executive.
The RCM has released data showing many students have considered leaving the profession, due to financial pressures.
‘We shall continue to make the case for the restoration of the bursary in England. In Scotland and Wales…we have lobbied for the retention and increase in the value of student bursaries,’ added Ms Walton.
Midwifery shortages remain a pressing issue. Highlighting the the increasing complexity of maternity care and demands on maternity services. Ms Walton said ‘we are still thousands of midwives short in England…we continue to make the case for tackling midwife shortages’. She added, ‘we will be monitoring the Government’s commitment to investing in 3,000 more training places over the next four years’.
Ms Walton’s speech also touched on other issues facing the profession. She called on governments across the UK to invest more into funding services for women suffering with pregnancy related mental health problems. She repeated the RCM’s call for every provider of maternity services to have a specialist midwife in post to enable women who are unwell to get the very best care and support they need.
She also called for a second referendum on EU membership, citing the big fall in the number of midwives from the EU who are working in the UK’s maternity services at a direct consequence of Brexit. This adds more pressure on maternity staff and the maternity care provided to all women suffers she added. She said ‘This is even more important now that the Prime Minister is threatening to walk away without a deal – something that was not on the ballot paper in 2016 and for which there is no mandate.’