More than 30 midwives from Lincoln County Hospital gathered outside the cathedral to make their voices heard in a plea for help.
The event held during the afternoon of Sunday, November 21 was part of the wider ‘March with Midwives UK’, with vigils held at various other locations across the UK.
The midwives claim maternity services are grossly understaffed with midwives working 13-hour shifts without a break on a regular basis.
Placards were held up at the march, with messages saying ‘My mummy is a midwife not a machine’, ‘Listen to midwives now’, ‘We’re having a midwife crisis’, and ‘If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention’.
The aim of the event was for people to stand in solidarity as parents, maternity users, lay birth workers and healthcare professionals call for government action to address the urgent crisis in maternity services.
Briony Mason, a midwife for NHS England who attended the Lincoln march, told The Lincolnite on Sunday: “We are gathering to draw attention to the fact that nobody is listening and we want people to hear our voices.
“We want to stress that we try and provide the safest care at all times. The problem is we’re all going above and beyond every single day, we don’t have breaks, or anything to drink or go to the loo for 12-and-a-half to 13 hours, just so they can make sure people get the safest care and we’re on our knees and need some help.
“The campaigners are calling for more funding immediately to support the midwifery profession, so to support volunteer workers and lay person workers to come and provide breast feeding support, provide neonatal care, and just to do all the other things that midwives do that we just haven’t got the time to do.
“They’re also calling for a better pay deal. We worked all through the pandemic, but this isn’t really about the pandemic because the problems were there before, it’s just become more stark with so much sickness at the moment with people off with COVID or family members off with COVID or having to isolate.”
Lincoln midwife Laura Morley previously told The Lincolnite the team of midwives were pulling together to make sure women are well cared for, and providing high quality maternity care is the reason they joined the profession.
She said: “On a day to day basis there are vast issues with staffing the service, already today there have been requests for midwives to cover seven shifts which are short over the coming days.
“Every single shift is short staffed which results in midwives missing their breaks (given we work 13-hour shifts that’s a lot considering it happens on a regular basis) and women are experiencing long delays and ultimately we aren’t able to deliver the level of care that they deserve. This is leaving midwives feeling demoralised and therefore leaving the profession.
“We are an amazing team and everyone wants the very best for the women in our service. We pull together, skip meals, leave work late, cover extra shifts because we want to give the very best care to women using our services but we are at breaking point.
“Ultimately, we shouldn’t have to, we shouldn’t be in a position where maternity services are so grossly underfunded that we have to make those sacrifices to deliver the care women deserve.”
The March with Midwives manifesto states that 2021 has “seen maternity services become critically unsafe for staff and users”. A recent Royal College of Midwives survey found 60% of staff were thinking of leaving the profession.
It has prompted a call for immediate government action – read the national March with Midwives Manifesto here.
They are demanding the government and decision makers:
- Listen to all staff and service users and their advocates
- Fund emergency retention
- Focus on recruitment
- Reduce the demands on staff
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said:“We are committed to patient safety, eradicating avoidable harms and making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.
“Midwives do an incredibly important job and we know how challenging it has been for those working during the pandemic. There are more midwives working in the NHS now than at any other time in its history and we are aiming to hire 1,200 more with a £95 million recruitment drive.
“The mental health and wellbeing of staff remains a key priority and the NHS continues to offer a broad range of support including through dedicated helplines and mental health and wellbeing hubs.”
The long-term plan for the Department for Health and Social Care is to make the NHS one of the best places in the world to give birth by offering mothers and babies better support and safer care.
Meanwhile, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust recently carried out an ‘establishment review’, looking at nurse and midwifery staffing across all wards in all of its hospitals.
It has since committed to investing an additional £2.6 million over the course of a year into expanding their nursing and midwifery workforce.